I usually read three-to-five leadership books per month.  The best book I read in 2017 was Sam Walker’s classic The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates The World’s Greatest Teams.  

What I enjoyed most about the book was it did not confirm my leadership biases.  Frankly, I did not agree with all the teams and players identified as the world’s greatest though I did learn much from what those listed had in common.  Every leader should read this book and discuss its findings with your team.

The following are 25 Leadership Quotes From The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates The World’s Greatest Teams:

  1. “The most crucial ingredient in a team that achieves and sustains historic greatness is the character of the player who leads it.”
  2. “What distinguished them (Hungary 1950-55 soccer team) was a style of play that erased specialization, forced players to subordinate their egos, and coaxed superior performances out of unlikely characters.”
  3. “The principle of regression to the mean tells us that if you wait long enough, any overheated level of performance, good or bad, is likely to fade.”
  4. “Individual commitment to a group effort, that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work.” – Vince Lombardi
  5. “The captain is the figure who holds sway over the dressing room by speaking to teammates as a peer, counseling them on and off the field, motivating them, challenging them, protecting them, resolving disputes, enforcing standards, inspiring fear when necessary, and above all setting a tone with words and deeds.”
  6. “The single most important ingredient after you get the talent is internal leadership.  It’s not the coaches as much as one single person or people on the team who set higher standards than that team would normally set for itself.” – Duke head basketball coach Mike Krzyzewski
  7. “Could it be that the one thing that lifts a team into the top .001 percent of teams in history is the leader of the players?”
  8. “The presence of a GOAT (Greatest Of All-Time) doesn’t guarantee success at the team level.”
  9. “A team is more likely to become elite if it has a captain that leads from the shadows.”
  10. “The collective talent level, and the ability to work democratically, turned out to be far more valuable than the isolated skill of one supreme achiever.  Having a superstar on your team is only beneficial if the rest of the team also scores relatively high.”
  11. “A team’s cultural resonance and the size of its trophy cabinet don’t play positions on the field.  In reality, a team’s ability to uphold a tradition of excellence comes down to something rather mundane – the quality of its upper management.”
  12. “What distinguished Lombardi the most from other coaches was his knack for oratory.  His speeches were simple, forceful, and urgent – rich with emotional overtones and war analogies.”
  13. “The organization has something to do with it, don’t get me wrong.  But don’t try to put the organization above the players.” – Michael Jordan
  14. “The performances of a handful of top stars had more influence on the season’s final standings than the decisions of all of the league’s managers combined.”
  15. “There is one quality we demand at Collingwood, it is the quick-thinking player with a dash of imagination.” – Australian Rules Football head coach Jock McHale
  16. “One of the highest compliments coaches can pay athletes is to describe them as relentless, to say that they just keep coming.”
  17. “When the going got tough, they didn’t get down on themselves.  They viewed the unsolved problems as puzzles to be mastered through effort.”
  18. “Winning is difficult but to win again is much more difficult – because egos appear.  Most people who win once have already achieved what they wanted and don’t have any more ambition.”
  19. “If a captain skips practice, gets arrested, criticizes management, goes after a heckler, or squabbles over their contract, they’re often judged by a different standard.”
  20. “Nearly all of the most highly ambitious, powerful, and successful people in business display at least some level of hostility and aggressive self-expression.”
  21. “The captains of the world’s sixteen greatest sports teams were not angels.  They sometimes did nasty things to win, especially when the stakes were highest.  They didn’t believe that being sportsmanlike all the time was a prerequisite for being great.”
  22. “Most of the Tier One captains had zero interest in the trappings of fame.”
  23. “One of the greatest paradoxes of management is that the people who pursue leadership positions most ardently are often the wrong people for the job.  They’re motivated by the prestige the role conveys rather than a desire to promote the goals and values of the organization.”
  24. “Effective team leaders are those who do, or who arrange to get done, whatever is critical for the team to accomplish its purpose.” – San Antonio Spurs superstar Tim Duncan
  25. “Without passion, even the best teams won’t win, and the passion of one player could elevate the performance of an entire unit.  When a leader does something dramatic on the field it releases energies you didn’t even know you had.”

These thoughts are only scratching the surface of this great book.  If you have not read it yet, make sure you click HERE and get your copy TODAY!


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