Behavioral Science’s Role in Stanley Cup Success

Jun 12, 2015 | Categories: hiring, leadership

Jon Cooper.jpeg

Cooper Leading Lightning to Familiar Territory

Hiring the right leader, or the right coach, can be like finding a diamond in the rough.

Sometimes it’s not always experience or coaching prowess, but instead a strong sense of character and conviction that makes them the prohibitive favorite.

In other words, the best hire isn’t always perceived as the right or safe hire.

Jon Cooper’s natural ability to lead others and build a championship team was first revealed in a TTI SI behavior assessment to land a minor league hockey-coaching job.

Landing this initial job has also led Cooper to where he is today: two wins away from hoisting the Stanley Cup as coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Need for a Leader

A perennial losing USHL franchise, the Green Bay Gamblers found themselves in tough spot after tough spot in the mid-2000s.

Following the 2007-08 campaign, new team president Brendan Bruss was tasked with finding a new coach. Someone not only savvy with the X’s and O’s, but also a charismatic leader who would connect with a hungry, rabid fan base.

Bruss identified three finalists for the Gamblers’ coaching position and connected with strategy and talent advisor Steve Van Remortel to determine overall job fit.

A Critical Hiring Decision

Van Remortel, owner of Green Bay-based SM Advisors, Inc., specializes in the strategy and talent of an organization and knew TTI Success Insights’ TriMetrix® HD assessment could help identify the top candidate. Steve Van Remortel

After job benchmarking the Gamblers’ coaching position, Bruss and Van Remortel determined the top candidate would need to be a magnetic leader who could easily interact and bond with current players, as well as attract top free agents.

The coach would also need to build a strong relationship with a community more inclined to show allegiance to the tradition and winning of the Green Bay Packers.

Bruss was receiving pressure from the organization to hire someone connected to a formidable, powerhouse NCAA Division I program.

Job Fit For the Win

A finalist with ties to a state team had everything going for him, including name recognition, but job benchmarking told Bruss and Van Remortel a different story.

Job benchmarking revealed a candidate with strengths in people management, drive, competitiveness and charisma. It was someone who was an unlikely choice prior to taking an assessment.

“Once we started talking about what the position needed, and we looked at the assessment, it became obvious who would be the best hire,” Van Remortel said.

That man was Cooper.



A Winning Formula

It turned out TTI SI’s TriMetrix® HD assessment started a chain reaction of success, for both the organization and Cooper.

In his first season, Cooper led the team to the largest single-season turnaround in USHL history (a 26-win differential) and a postseason berth before eventually netting the Gamblers with the 2010 Clark Cup (Stanley Cup equivalent).

“Brendan hired exactly who the organization needed and got exactly out of it what he wanted, which was winning,” Van Remortel said. “Jon’s success shouldn’t surprise anyone one bit. Players want to run through a wall for that guy.”

Safe hires are, well, safe. But good hires can position people for sustained growth and excellence — and Cooper continues to exemplify those traits.

The longtime coach has succeeded on every stage. He’s led teams from worst to first and has the Lightning two wins away from their second Stanley Cup.

Now that's great job fit.

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Zach Colick

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