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

What makes a great team? What factors allow a team to dominate its sport? And how can a team (or business) hope to sustain this level of success? These questions propel Sam Walker's The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World's Greatest Teams, a fascinating and thought-provoking examination of the dynamics of teamwork and winning.

Walker, the Wall Street Journal's founding sports section editor, has compiled a list of the 16 most dominant teams in world sports--including the 1960s Boston Celtics, the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers and the Australian women's field hockey team of the 1990s. It is an eclectic list, and, according to Walker, what links these teams is the presence of a specific type of captain--a leader who doesn't possess otherworldly natural ability, but rather one who leads by example. Think Bill Russell, not Michael Jordan; more Yogi Berra than Mickey Mantle. Walker claims a great team leader knows how to motivate without intimidating and, according to Duke University basketball coach Mike Kryzewski, "[sets] higher standards than the team would normally set for itself."

The Captain Class also contains fascinating (or cringe-worthy) behind-the-scenes anecdotes, like the New Zealand rugby captain who played with a torn scrotum and Yogi Berra relaxing a wound-up Whitey Ford by telling him, "Okay, Slick. The main feature at the movies starts at six. It's four now, and I want to be on time."

Walker strikes the right balance between analytics and anecdotal evidence to support his theory on team leadership; The Captain Class never feels cumbersome. Instead, Walker draws the reader into his passionate investigation of the inner workings of great sport teams. --David Martin, freelance writer

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