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

By Sam Walker
From the founding editor of The Wall Street Journal's sports section comes a bold new theory of leadership drawn from the elite captains who inspired their teams to achieve extraordinary success.

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.

Several years ago, Sam Walker set out to answer one of the most hotly debated questions in sports: What are the greatest teams of all time? He devised a formula, then applied it to thousands of teams from leagues all over the world, from the NBA to the English Premier League to Olympic field hockey. When he was done, he had a list of the sixteen most dominant teams in history. At that point, he became obsessed with another, more complicated question: What did these freak teams have in common?

As Walker dug into their stories, a pattern emerged: Each team had the same type of captain--a singular leader with an unconventional skill set who drove it to achieve sustained, historic greatness.

Fueled by a lifetime of sports spectating, twenty years of reporting, and a decade of painstaking research, The Captain Class tells the surprising story of what makes teams exceptional. Drawing on original interviews with athletes from two dozen countries, as well as general managers, coaches, executives, and others skilled at building teams, Walker identifies the seven core qualities of this Captain Class--from extreme doggedness and emotional control to a knack for nonverbal communication to tactical aggression and the courage to stand apart.

Told through riveting accounts of some of the most pressure-soaked moments in sports history--from Bill Russell's legendary "Coleman Play" in the 1957 NBA Finals to Barcelona's "Figo Game" against Real Madrid in 2000--The Captain Class doesn't just bring these events to life; it presents a fresh, counterintuitive take on leadership that can be applied to a wide spectrum of competitive disciplines.

The men and women who make up the Captain Class were never the most skilled athletes, nor were they gifted orators or paragons of sportsmanship. They were often role players who were allergic to the spotlight. In short, the seven attributes they shared challenge your assumptions of what inspired leadership looks like.

Praise for The Captain Class

"The Captain Class is an awesome book. I find myself relating a lot to its portrayal of the out-of-the-norm leader."--Carli Lloyd, co-captain, U.S. Women's National Soccer Team

"The Captain Class really resonated with me. It will absolutely be part of my thought process as we continue to build our roster. Several of our players, coaches, and other executives are reading it too."--Ryan Pace, general manager, Chicago Bears

"Well-researched, wildly entertaining, and thought-provoking, Sam Walker's The Captain Class presents compelling narratives about the secret ingredient to the greatest teams of all time--and quickly has the reader reexamining long-held beliefs about leadership and the glue that binds winning teams together."--Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, Chicago Cubs

"The insights in this book are tremendous."--Bob Myers, general manager, Golden State Warriors



    REVIEW QUOTES
Advance praise for The Captain Class

"Well-researched, wildly entertaining, and thought-provoking. In The Captain Class, Sam Walker presents compelling narratives about the secret ingredient to the greatest teams of all time--and quickly makes you reexamine long-held beliefs about leadership and the glue that binds winning teams together."--Theo Epstein, President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs

"In The Captain Class, Sam Walker gives us important and original insights into the mysterious ingredients of transformative leadership. A stunning mix of research and narrative."--Susan Cain, bestselling author of Quiet

"Over the years, many books have promised to reveal the secret of building successful teams. But now Sam Walker has actually gone and done it. He's given us an idea-driven, myth-busting gem of a book that that is insightful, useful, and hellaciously fun to read. If you care about leadership, talent development, or the art of competition, you need to read this immediately."--Daniel Coyle, bestselling author of The Talent Code

"The Captain Class is a brilliant hybrid: one-part detective story and one-part leadership book, set in the world of sports, and dedicated to a fascinating mystery: What sets apart the greatest teams of all time? I'm not even a sports nut and I couldn't put it down."--Dan Heath, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Made to Stick

"Sam Walker has unlocked one of sports' greatest mysteries: the secret to the success of 16 team dynasties. On nearly every page, you'll be shaking your head at another revelation about how a team's dominance is hard-wired to the team captain's leadership. The Captain Class is one of the most surprising, best-written--and fun--sports books published in recent years."--Don Van Natta Jr., Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author of First Off the Tee

Advance praise for The Captain Class "Well-researched, wildly entertaining, and thought-provoking. In The Captain Class, Sam Walker presents compelling narratives about the secret ingredient to the greatest teams of all time--and quickly makes you reexamine long-held beliefs about leadership and the glue that binds winning teams together."--Theo Epstein, President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs "In The Captain Class, Sam Walker gives us important and original insights into the mysterious ingredients of transformative leadership. A stunning mix of research and narrative."--Susan Cain, bestselling author of Quiet "Over the years, many books have promised to reveal the secret of building successful teams. But now Sam Walker has actually gone and done it. He's given us an idea-driven, myth-busting gem of a book that that is insightful, useful, and hellaciously fun to read. If you care about leadership, talent development, or the art of competition, you need to read this immediately."--Daniel Coyle, bestselling author of The Talent Code "The Captain Class is a brilliant hybrid: one-part detective story and one-part leadership book, set in the world of sports, and dedicated to a fascinating mystery: What sets apart the greatest teams of all time? I'm not even a sports nut and I couldn't put it down."--Dan Heath, co-author of the New York Times bestseller Made to Stick "Sam Walker has unlocked one of sports' greatest mysteries: the secret to the success of 16 team dynasties. On nearly every page, you'll be shaking your head at another revelation about how a team's dominance is hard-wired to the team captain's leadership. The Captain Class is one of the most surprising, best-written--and fun--sports books published in recent years."--Don Van Natta Jr., Pulitzer Prize winner and New York Times bestselling author of First Off the Tee



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About the Hardcover

Publisher Random House
Publish date 05/16/2017
Pages 352
ISBN-13 9780812997194
ISBN-10 0812997190
Language English

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