Leadership Lab: Racing towards Accountability

Leadership Lab - Accountability
Challenge yourself and hold yourself accountable to who you are, what you say, what you do.

Six weeks ago, I ran the Toronto International Waterfront Marathon.

People have since asked me what possessed me to do this at age 54.

My simple answer is that it has been a bucket list item for a long time.

Now, when I say a long time, I mean for over 30 years. When I first thought about running it, I was young and dumb, and as the months turned into years and the years turned into decades, I was wondering if it was ever going to happen as the excuses started to find their way into my head.

So, it took a nudge from my kids, inadvertently, where a conversation about goals, dreams, and things we wanted to accomplish was the central theme of the discussion. I threw it out there and they looked me and asked “Why haven’t you done so?” – to which I had no response. They were right – why hadn’t I done it?

Well, I decided to hold myself accountable to the promise I made myself long ago. I consulted an expert, who helped me with a training plan and I then spent over four-and-a-half-months executing it.

As a coach and leader, I have always been intrigued with the mental challenge of setting an audacious goal and then going after it. This one was truly a grind, both physically and mentally.

I think that running is a metaphor for life, and to some extent for coaching hockey as well. I operate on the premise of being authentic to who I am, not being afraid of taking risks and getting after things, as well as not over complicating things.

Accountability isn’t about accepting blame when things go wrong, it is about delivering on your promises and being proactive to what you say to others and yourself. I can tell you, I was questioning my decision as I struggled the last 7 km of the race, but what powered me through was that there was absolutely no way I wasn’t going to finish.

The promise I made to myself when I signed up was that I was completing it. Period. It is also a testament to how the mind operates.

Coaches do not need to run long distances to showcase how accountability works, but it is in holding ourselves to higher standards in what we say and do that we are able to show true leadership.

The real work of leadership starts within our minds.

How often do we throw things out there to people in a casual or serious manner, with no real intention of following through? How often do we give up on what we promise to ourselves and use excuses to justify them? How often do we cast aside the player who isn’t performing, even though we committed to that very player and his/her parents’ months earlier?

Challenge yourself and hold yourself accountable to who you are, what you say, what you do.


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Chris De Piero

Chris is a Senior High-Performance Coach and has spent the past 30+ years in the game of hockey as a player, Head Coach, General Manager, scout, mentor, consultant and most importantly as a parent. He has done so in the NHL, with Hockey Canada, in the OHL and the OHA, as well as European pro hockey. In addition, he has spent 15+ years as a classroom teacher as well as being in leadership positions as an administrator with a private high school in Toronto.

Chris has coached over 100 players who have played and/or been drafted into the NHL, and 100+ players who have gone on to play NCAA or USport hockey. He has won multiple championships as a Head Coach and GM, notably winning a Stanley Cup ring from being a member of the scouting staff of the Pittsburgh Penguins from 2012-2016.

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