If you show incredible toughness and do something that's really passionately aggressive to help the team win, in the spirit of helping the team win, everyone sees that and our brains process that, we actually feel a paler version of that emotion already, if you can tap into that interconnected system, the personality that is under consciousness, you can have a really dramatic impact on how a team performs.

This week’s guest was a tremendous interview! 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 two-time bestselling author, Walker's latest book, "The Captain Class", set out to answer one of the most hotly debated questions in sports: Who are the greatest teams of all time? He devised a formula, applied it to thousands of teams from leagues all over the world, and when he was done, trimmed the best of the best down to a list of the sixteen most dominant teams in history.

With the list in hand, Walker became obsessed with another, more complicated question: What did these freak teams have in common? As Walker dug into their stories, a distinct pattern emerged: Each team had the same type of captain — a singular leader with an unconventional skill set who drove it to achieve sustained, historic greatness. So he wrote a book that delivers to us this exact formula. On today's show, we talk about his discoveries, take a deep dive with into the history of success for each captain and team he highlighted in his book, and much, much more.

Walker's ability to identify these counterintuitive leadership qualities of the unconventional women and men who drove their respective team's to success is phenomenal. A must-listen show.

Sam Walker

Sam Walker

Author, The Captain Class

Show Notes

5:00 How he got started
9:45 Stumbling into The Captain Class
11:30 Defining teams and greatness
17:00 16 finalists
20:30 Defining the captain class
26:00 Barcelona
31:30 Playing through injury
38:45 Nonverbal communication
41:00 Emotional control
45:00 Don't find a coach, find a captain
46:50 Responding to dirty play
52:15 After the captain leaves
56:00 Dealing with organizational issues
63:00 Why multiple captains don't work
64:30 The praise test
66:30 Can captains transfer