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, written by Jeremy. Read the commentary.

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Goalies are a notoriously quirky bunch. Packed with twitches and eccentricities, they have one the oddest jobs in any professional sport – to jump in the way while the world’s strongest and finest rifle rock hard pucks at over 100 miles per hour.

It’s a strange and specialized job. Encumbered by heavy pads, a monstrous stick, and awkward skates – they stand, often alone, guarding their nets. In an ideal game they don’t participate at all. In the worst of games they have a central and pivotal role.

It’s odd isn’t it? The weakest player has the most singularly pivotal role. Yet, no matter how great, no goalie plays alone. They’re central to the win but utterly useless on their own.

To be brilliant requires peers.

Quirky, eccentric, and unshakable people are tremendously weak people. To be utterly brilliant in a few places is to be undeniably weak in others.

It’s a paradox that to be peerless in the best of ways requires the best of peers.

To tap their greatest potential, leaders need peers who are brilliant in the leader’s areas of greatest weakness.

In recent years there’s been a slow drift to sanity among NHL goaltenders. There are several reasons for this: better coaching, more integration with the team, and a stronger field of athletes interested in the role. The most important is coaching.

Goalie coaches are standard today. They weren’t before the 1980s. Until then, goalies were deeply isolated and left to themselves. Today goalies are heavily reinforced with entourages that even include mental skills coaches.

Coaching CEOs is the traditional role of corporate boards. Led by grizzled business-people, boards are populated by the most successful individuals a company is able to attract. But, are these people coaches?

Most boards are comprised of first or few-timers. While these people usually have lots of business experience, they often have zero board experience.

Few life experiences teach a new board member how to work with a strong CEO. Who ever gets taught how to guide the Prime Minister? Where in our lives are lessons for challenging a President?

It’s mysterious to me that so little is available to guide boards. One of the most popular posts on this blog is entitled, Imagine your board of directors. It’s the title the rings in the readers. People are desperate to understand this riddle.

I know of so many bad boards and so few good ones. But more than that – beyond the rarely good and mostly bad boards that do exist – what of the boards that should exist?

What of the boards so vital to guiding the innovative, medium-sized companies that are so rare? What of the coaches and peers for Gazelles or other, similar economic rockets?

We talk of innovation as though the table were set. We act like everything is waiting for the right CEO. But this isn’t true. So much more is missing.


[…] week I wrote that corporate boards need coaches. They need help coaching CEOs. The biggest challenge for the boards of brilliant CEOs is that these […]