The Captain Class: A New Theory of Leadership

The Captain Class: A New Theory of Leadership

by Sam Walker


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A bold new theory of leadership drawn from elite captains throughout sports—named one of the best business books of the year by CNBC, The New York Times, Forbes, strategy+business, The Globe and Mail, and Sports Illustrated
“The book taught me that there’s no cookie-cutter way to lead. Leading is not just what Hollywood tells you. It’s not the big pregame speech. It’s how you carry yourself every day, how you treat the people around you, who you are as a person.”—Mitchell Trubisky, quarterback, Chicago Bears

Now featuring analysis of the five-time Super Bowl champion New England Patriots and their captain, Tom Brady

The seventeen most dominant teams in sports history had one thing in common: Each employed the same type of captain—a singular leader with an unconventional set of skills and tendencies. Drawing on original interviews with athletes, general managers, coaches, and team-building experts, Sam Walker identifies the seven core qualities of the Captain Class—from extreme doggedness and emotional control to tactical aggression and the courage to stand apart. Told through riveting accounts of pressure-soaked moments in sports history, The Captain Class will challenge your assumptions of what inspired leadership looks like.
Praise for The Captain Class
“Wildly entertaining and thought-provoking . . . makes you reexamine long-held beliefs about leadership and the glue that binds winning teams together.”—Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, Chicago Cubs
“If you care about leadership, talent development, or the art of competition, you need to read this immediately.”—Daniel Coyle, author of The Culture Code
“The insights in this book are tremendous.”—Bob Myers, general manager, Golden State Warriors
“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. Soccer Women’s National Team
“A great read . . . Sam Walker used data and a systems approach to reach some original and unconventional conclusions about the kinds of leaders that foster enduring success. Most business and leadership books lapse into clichés. This one is fresh.”—Jeff Immelt, chairman and former CEO, General Electric 
“I can’t tell you how much I loved The Captain Class. It identifies something many people who’ve been around successful teams have felt but were never able to articulate. It has deeply affected my thoughts around how we build our culture.”—Derek Falvey, chief baseball officer, Minnesota Twins

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780812987072
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/01/2018
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 64,968
Product dimensions: 5.46(w) x 8.22(h) x 0.77(d)

About the Author

Sam Walker is The Wall Street Journal’s deputy editor for enterprise, the unit that oversees the paper’s in-depth page-one features and investigative reporting projects. A former reporter, columnist, and sports editor, Walker founded the Journal’s prizewinning daily sports coverage in 2009. He is the author of Fantasyland, a bestselling account of his attempt to win America’s top fantasy baseball expert competition (of which he is a two-time champion). Walker attended the University of Michigan. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

Read an Excerpt


Excerpted from "The Captain Class"
by .
Copyright © 2018 Sam Walker.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Prologue xiii

Part I Greatness and its Origins: The Birth of a Freak Team 1

1 Alpha Lions: Identifying the World's Greatest Teams 13

2 Captain Theory: The Importance of "Glue Guys" 31

3 Talent, Money, and Culture: Alternative Explanations 52

4 Do Coaches Matter? The Vince Lombardi Effect 69

Part II The Captains: The Seven Methods of Elite Leaders 87

5 They Just Keep Coming: Doggedness and Its Ancillary Benefits 93

6 Intelligent Fouls: Playing to the Edge of the Rules 112

7 Carrying Water: The Invisible Art of Leading from the Back 133

8 Boxing Ears and Wiping Noses: Practical Communication 154

9 Calculated Acts: The Power of Nonverbal Displays 171

10 Uncomfortable Truths: The Courage to Stand Apart 185

11 The Kill Switch: Regulating Emotion 204

Part III The Opposite Direction: Leadership Mistakes and Misperceptions 229

12 False Idols: Flawed Captains and Why We Love Them 233

13 The Captaincy in Winter: Leadership's Decline, and How to Revive It 255

Epilogue 271

Appendix 277

Acknowledgments 307

Bibliography 311

Index 319

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