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Episode 206: Sam Walker – The Hidden Force That Creates The World’s Greatest Teams

Episode 206: Sam Walker – The Hidden Force That Creates The World’s Greatest Teams: Captains

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.

His most recent book is titled, The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates The World’s Greatest Teams

Episode 206: Sam Walker – The Hidden Force That Creates The World’s Greatest Teams: Captains

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The Learning Leader Show

“Great captains have an unwavering commitment to defend their principles and speak truth to power.”

Show Notes:

  • The 7 Traits of Elite Captains:
    • Extreme doggedness and focus in competition, often to the point of madness
    • A tendency to play aggressively up to, and often beyond, the limits of the rules
    • A willingness to do thankless jobs in the shadow of more acclaimed teammates
    • A bias against making big speeches in favor of continuous practical communication
    • A talent for displaying their commitment and motivating teammates through aggressive nonverbal means
    • An unwavering commitment to defend their principles and speak truth to power
    • The presence of a “kill switch” for shutting off emotion when it’s not useful
  • Studying the moment when teams went from good to great
  • Why LeBron James is a unicorn
    • “His model of leadership is completely new.”
  • Relation to the business world — Some of the greatest leaders don’t think they deserve the title (job title or to be captain) — Tim Duncan & Yogi Berra
  • The rituals of Tim Duncan
    • Short conversations with each teammate
    • Great facial expressions
    • Effective messaging
    • Never giving big speeches
  • How to be a charismatic connector like Tim Duncan
  • Great captains (and leaders) are not “yes men.” They defend their principles and speak truth to power
  • Jack Lambert purposely left blood on his jersey as a message to his team — Great captains have a talent for displaying their commitment and motivating teammates through aggressive nonverbal means
  • The ability to develop “emotional maturity.” A measured approach
    • As Liz Wiseman said “Great leaders have a buffer between the stimulus and their response”
  • They are able to build resilience

“Great leaders have a bias against making big speeches in favor of continuous practical communication.”

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Episode edited by the great J Scott Donnell

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