In a recent Tony Robbins Podcast, “Are you part of the Captain Class?” Sam Walker gives us insight into what drove him into writing his book “The Captain Class”. It all started with a question. What makes teams so great.? Was there some foundational DNA to a winning team. Next, once a team became great, his next question was, how do you stay that way? How do you create a culture and chemistry to continue to win? That’s the thing that makes a team better than the sum of its parts?
What is the magic formula? In sports, it’s the captain of the team. And if you were to just think of the qualities that individual as you would think of someone with huge talent, a celebrity, a superstar, takes the big shots, has charisma, can command attention, that they are comfortable and loyal to the team, they are diplomatic, they diffuse conflict, and are happy to have the attention all on them. This is what we think a leader is. Sam Walker was shocked to find out that captains who are the team members of the team are nothing like that. They are the opposite.
For example, Pele was never the captain. Captains put all of their time into the team and what the team needs. Superstars have to focus on their game. Where most of the captains for the Brazil soccer team you have never heard of. They are below the radar and are all about the collective goals of the team, not their own.
So, what does this all mean? When it comes time to pick a leader, we fall back on this Hollywood notion that they have to be obvious, have excessive talent and abilities, they are charismatic, and that there is something different about them from someone else. While the signs of a true leader are in the shadows, they are relentless in their communication, they have emotional control and exhibit nonverbal cues. They know how to behave with the team to achieve and maintain success.
And as Sam reveals, once you do find these individuals, you need to understand how to effectively partner with them so that they assume a more autonomous role that can ultimately lead the entire team to success.