Counselor Commentary: Have A Heart

Hockey Player's Daughter Orchestrates Father's Trade Home

Dave VagnoniEven if you’re not a sports junkie, you still might’ve heard the name Jordan Leopold this month. An NHL defenseman, Leopold was traded on March 2 by the Columbus Blue Jackets to the Minnesota Wild. In terms of league-wide impact, the trade itself really didn’t mean much. But what made the deal such a headline grabber is that it was orchestrated – at least in part – by Leopold’s 11-year-old daughter Jordyn.

“Dear Minnesota Wild Coaches,” Jordyn wrote in a January letter, “My Dad is very lonely without his family. We are living in Minnesota right now and I am lost without my Dad, and so is my Mom, my two sisters and my brother. It has been since November and we cannot take it anymore. Well, to get to the point, the Wild have not been winning games and you coaches are most likely mad about that. Your team needs some more D-men, so can you please, please, please ask the Jackets if you guys can get him [my Dad].”

Jordyn’s mom posted the hand-written letter to Facebook and predictably it went viral on social media. It certainly put added pressure on team executives to get a deal done. When the trade was completed, the general manager of the Blue Jackets tweeted out a picture of the letter along with the comment: “It isn’t always just about business.” You can see the Tweet and the entire letter for yourself by clicking here.

Following the Tweet, the Jordan Leopold trade became an international feel-good story. Even the most rough-edged, skeptical-of-everything people – myself among them – have to agree, this is all pretty cute. It’s nice to see decency still has an honorable place in sports. Which got me thinking that it should certainly have a place in business, too.

Sometimes deal-making shouldn’t be about getting the biggest margin. Sometimes hiring and firing should be more about character and less about sheer numbers. Sometimes being the most efficient company stops you from being the best company. Not every decision, in other words, should be based strictly on winning the day. I’ve learned many times that people who are successful tend to be conspicuous – their good or bad example is one that many see. What do others see in you?

I used to think leaders who made business decisions based on emotion, not facts, were weak. I was wrong. Going with your heart over your head isn’t always the right thing, but it keeps us human. That’s a lot better than being corporate. And while you might not run a pro sports team where athletes and their families come and go, the lives you affect are no less important.