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Trevor Linden: ‘Leadership starts with caring’

WATCH: President of the Vancouver Canucks Trevor Linden talks about the leadership lessons he took from his NHL years to his after-hockey career.

He became the captain of the Vancouver Canucks at 21. At 46, he is the team’s president.

Trevor Linden says hockey was always in his blood, but his leadership skills on and off the ice come from a strong upbringing and the lessons he learned from the best in his sport.

“[My family] came from a very humble place,” Linden told Global BC’s Sophie Lui as part of the Global News and CKNW Leadership Series. “My hockey equipment has always been from garage sales and second-hand stores. But I didn’t care, I just wanted to play.”

Linden says he grew up a self-starter because his parents never imposed their ambitions on him, but just wanted him to be active.

“Sport is so good for our kids, regardless of whether they become professional hockey players or Olympic athletes, it’s good because it teaches them lessons about life.”

READ MORE: Leadership Series presented by Global News and CKNW

One of the toughest lessons Linden says he had to learn as a hockey player was that you learn from adversity better than you do from success.

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Having been named the captain of a major NHL franchise at the age of 21 could have put tremendous pressure on any player, but Linden says it strengthened him instead.

“It should have been daunting but it was not, I was too young to know better,” he said. “It’s something that I wanted and I felt was right for me.”

He was also humble enough to realize he needed help from some of the older players and he didn’t hesitate to ask.

Linden credits players like Stan Smyl and Garth Butcher for supporting him along the way.

His time in the NHL also taught him that a true leader does not need a title to lead.

“In the dress room, there are 20 players and every one of those players is a leader in their own right,” said Linden. “They may play different roles throughout the night but every one of those roles is significant to success, not unlike our business lives today, whether it is the receptionist, CFO or department leader. They play an integral role in success. Leadership is not always about the person who stands up and gives the speech. At the end of the day, actions speak louder than words. It’s the leadership quality that’s important, whether on the ice or in the boardroom.”

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Linden says his most important mentor was the team’s head coach and executive Pat Quinn, who passed away in 2014.

Linden says meeting Quinn taught him not only about the game itself, but about how to be a leader.

“He respected and cared for people,” said Linden. “That was the foundation for Pat. Everything came from that for him: whether it was the security guard at the Pacific Coliseum who greeted him in the morning or his number one centerman, he just cared for people. It starts from the heart.”

Linden says Quinn had the ability to identify what people were good at and get the most out of it, and not ask people to do the things that they were not capable of doing.

After being named the president of the Vancouver Canucks in 2014, Linden tried to incorporate many of those lessons into his own leadership style and he continues to work on it every day.

“The best leaders I have ever worked with were not necessarily the most vocal and loudest people in the room,” said Linden. “But they were the guys who were diligent, on time and had great habits. I don’t think it matters what position or title you have. The best leaders that I worked with were collaborative. At the end of the day, when you walk into that boardroom, are you able to check your ego at the door and say, what do we need to do to get this done?”

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WATCH: Web exclusive Q&A with Trevor Linden:

Leadership Series: Q & A with Trevor Linden
Leadership Series: Q & A with Trevor Linden

Global News and CKNW’s Leadership Series, presented by FortisBC:

Airs on BC1

  • Nov. 25 @ 10:30 a.m. & 2 p.m.
  • Nov. 26 @ 3:30 p.m. & 4:30 p.m.
  • Nov. 27 @ 11:30 a.m.

Airs on CKNW

  • Nov. 25 @ 1 p.m.
  • Nov. 26 @ 3 p.m.
  • Nov. 27 @ 3 p.m.
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