A GM is not a CEO and never will be. The COO is not a CEO and never will be.
An NHL GM isn’t a CEO. An NFL GM isn’t a CEO.
A baseball GM isn’t a CEO. A soccer GM isn’t a CEO.
But, what they all are is salesmen. Every GM is a salesman of some kind and needs to be a marketer.
There is no place for a vanilla GM anymore
Every GM is expected to be marketing and sales-friendly.
They need to sell tickets and sponsorships and merchandise and practice facilities and training facilities and off-season workout facilities.
They need to make people want to support a team and they need to build a brand for the club.
They also need to build a structure, and that structure should include an infrastructure of people who sell the team and the league the way it should be marketed.
Every general manager is expected to be an ambassador for their organization, so every general manager is responsible for recruiting and retaining the most qualified staff available.
But, first and foremost, each general manager is responsible for assembling a team of staff that can accomplish that goal
My goal as the general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning is to hire and retain the most talented staff possible.
We are a small team so everyone has to play a role, but I always value experience and past accomplishments over youth.
One thing we will never sacrifice is our skill and desire to be the best.
What we do lose, however, is the most important asset a general manager has – an educated staff with the capability to provide excellent counsel to my daily responsibilities.
The process of recruiting and hiring staff is not easy and needs to be done very strategically.
We have had some very good luck and have been able to find some of the best stuff out there, but we have had some failures as well.
You need to be able to evaluate talent carefully and with precision to maximize the value of the team.
It’s easy to get caught up in making personnel decisions, but the two most important roles a general manager has are to lead the team and make decisions
If you aren’t doing either of these, then you aren’t doing your job.
When people lose a loved one, the people they care about most often say they wish they could have done one more thing.
I’m not so sure I’d want to go back and undo some of the moves I’ve made.
A GM should always want the best staff they can get for the team. So, when I hire someone, I’m looking for three things:
1) Solid working knowledge of the roster
This is a general manager’s biggest tool.
It’s the tool that allows him to anticipate problems and put in place solutions before they become huge issues.
2) An understanding of team structure
A GM must know what his team is doing from a financial, financial, budget, and personnel perspective.
To do this, he needs an understanding of his scouting department, roster management, and player development personnel.
3) The ability to coordinate staff members and do what is necessary to maximize their talents
The GM’s role can never be done without the input of his staff.
What I look for when evaluating a staff member is someone with good organizational skills and the ability to integrate into a team.
Of course, there are lots of good people out there. My job is to find the ones who can come together and perform consistently.
My job is to find the “stars,” not a collection of “working parts.”
The average NHL general manager has been in the game for four or five years
Once that happens, it becomes really difficult to find people who are capable of a job with no previous experience.
It doesn’t happen in other industries, but it does in the NHL. It also doesn’t happen much in other sports, but it happens a lot in hockey.
I’m not saying that every NHL general manager is a novice or bad.
I’m saying the average number of years in the game means fewer candidates to hire. This is where you have to be able to pay attention.
In the game of hockey, the organizations that make the playoffs year after year have an excellent staff.
This should be no surprise. The success in this business is tied to great leadership and strong organization.
This is a job where you have to have tunnel vision and be willing to make some tough decisions
This is where you have to be able to say, “No, I’m not going to sign that player or move him.”
This is where you have to be able to step back, analyze and know when the team needs more work.
These are all challenging positions, but if you don’t want to be a GM, you have to be willing to take on this kind of responsibility.
The fact that there are so many moving parts in hockey makes it a little harder to find people who have all the skills I listed above, but it’s something you have to do.
You have to find people who are not only qualified but also have the right attitude, personality, and energy.
If you’re going to hire a staff, you want to be able to recognize that not all staff members are going to mesh and that some will fall flat.