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Jets Head Coach Paul Maurice gives lecture on leadership

February 28, 2014 — 
Paul Maurice in a suit and tie

Paul Maurice

Winnipeg Jets head coach Paul Maurice delivered a rousing lesson in leadership to an audience of nearly 150 students at the Asper School of Business on February 24. He was invited to speak at the school by Sean McDonald, an instructor in Business Administration and devoted hockey fan.

Maurice describes himself as a perpetual student of business. He started attending business school in 1986. “Every time I get fired, I go back to work on my degree,” he says. “I have one semester to go.”

The following excerpts from his inspiring talk highlight the key lessons that have served him best over the years.

Wear the damn tie

Maurice says you should always look your best. He’s never heard of a woman who said, “I like that guy but he’s wearing a tie, I’m not going to talk to him.” In business, it’s always important to make a great first impression – and your appearance is where it all starts.

How do we get better at our weaknesses without losing our strengths?

That SWOT analysis you learn in business school – the one you think you’ll never use in real life? Maurice uses it every single day.

You have to learn how to grind

If you can learn to grind through the parts of your life that are difficult, you’ll be successful. “Learning how to do that in school serves you well for life.”

Ask the girl out

Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Take some chances, especially when you’re young, because at this point you can recover from just about anything.


Maurice hates that word, but networking is a key part of what he does. Prior to coming to speak to Asper students, he asked Mark Chipman for his advice to students. Chipman said, “Don’t be afraid not to be the smartest person in the room.” It’s important to network outside your comfort zone: “Coach a team, get into a dance class, take up music – do something that puts you out there in another group of people that you wouldn’t normally travel with.” Learning to handle yourself in different groups makes you a better coach, manager or leader – and a better person.

Everybody has to bring something to the table – everyone has a job

A team won’t win if every single member doesn’t bring their “A” game to the ice. The job of a coach or leader is to make sure everyone on the team can trust that everyone else is doing his or her best. As for those who aren’t carrying their weight: “You’ve got to find them as soon as you possibly can and do one of two things. You’ve either got to help them become trust builders, or you’ve got to get rid of them, because they will destroy your group.” Another important leadership skill: “Get people in the right spots and encourage them to do the right things.”

What is it that that makes you different? Branding!

Know who you are. “When you turn that TV on at night what I want is that you know exactly what you’re going to see: certain specific things every single night, because the players know that’s who they are.”

You’re not going to win every game

So what? Learn from your mistakes. Strive to be better at what you do. “On a bad day, coaches can sit around and criticize and blame, but in the right room, when we’re rolling, we say, ‘how do we make this better, how do we fix this?’”

I have never met a truly confident and arrogant man

Maurice says he’s met many of one or the other, but he has always found arrogance to be a false front for insecurity.

And, finally:

“You never know how hard you’re working when you’re winning.”


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