The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World's Greatest Teams / by James Leath

The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World's Greatest Teams

"The secret to winning is not what you think it is. It’s not the coach. It’s not the star. It’s not money. It’s not a strategy. It’s something else entirely."

The founding editor of The Wall Street Journal’s sports section profiles the greatest teams in history and identifies the counterintuitive leadership qualities of the unconventional men and women who drove them to succeed.

I have the privilege of working with many great teams in high school, college, and on the professional level, discussing leadership and personal development. Building great teams requires many people to come together and do their part to the best of their ability. However, I often see the organization putting themselves ahead of the players, especially in youth sports, but really at every level. As coaches and administrators, we sometimes forget the most important people in the organization are not the coaches, but those who make up the team. In youth sports, I remind coaches all the time that kids do not need us. I did not need a coach to organize a flag football game at the field down the street where I grew up. No one one helped line the fields and monitor play during the epic capture the flag battles that filled my elementary lunchtime schedule. Without the players, a coach is just a person with a bag of cones and a useless whistle.

This book shows some very interesting statistics on the long term effects of firing a coach or hiring someone new. (Spoiler alert: the change in winning percentage is miniscule.) But player personnel changes, that is the real game-changer.

Idea to Ponder:

  • The Seven Traits of Elite Captains

    1. Extreme Doggedness and focus in competition.

    2. Aggressive play that tests the limits of the rules.

    3. A willingness to do thankless jobs in the shadows.

    4. A low-key, practical, and democratic communication style.

    5. Motivates others with passionate nonverbal displays.

    6. Strong convictions and the courage to stand apart.

    7. Ironclad emotional control.

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