One of my favorite quotes is "SUCCESS LEAVES CLUES."
'THE CAPTAIN CLASS' is a fantastic book that studied success of some of the most elite teams of all time.
Author Sam Walker, who will lead an Elite Coaches' Mastermind class in September, decided to identify the most dominant sports' professional dynasties in the world and study them. He wanted to know what common denominators they shared if any.
The criteria he used to define a dynasty were rigorous; their accomplishments were unique for their sport. Most won multiple world championships in a short period of time. Only 16 teams made what he calls Tier 1 status. The teams he labeled 'the best of the best' were:
Collingwood Magpies (Australian rules football) 1927-30
New York Yankees 1949-53
Hungary (men's soccer) 1950-55
Montreal Canadiens 1955-60
Boston Celtics 1956-69
Brazil (men's soccer) 1958-62
Pittsburgh Steelers 1974-80
Soviet Union (men's ice hockey) 1980-84
New Zealand All Blacks (rugby) 1986-90
Cuba (women's volleyball) 1991-2000
Australia (women's field hockey) 1993-2000
United States (women's soccer) 1996-99
San Antonio Spurs 1997-2016
New England Patriots 2001-18
Barcelona (men's soccer) 2008-13
France (men's handball) 2008-15
New Zealand All Blacks (rugby) 2011-15
Mr. Walker wondered if these professional teams had:
-the best owner in the league?......no
-did they spend the most money?.....no
-the best coach in the league?......no
-the best player in the league?.....no
The common denominator was they all had was
While there were many characteristics of the captains, the area I focus on is SERVANT LEADERSHIP.
They had captains who did not care about endorsements or had a 'look at me' attitude. They had captains like Tim Duncan, who was a quiet general. He was an 'arm around' leader who did the dirty work without wanting the credit.
A TACTIC TO USE WITH YOUR TEAM
The last few years before covid, I had 'leadership lunches' in the summer. Once or twice a week, I would invite around eight players to lunch (I would also ask a different assistant coach each time). We would use this time to get to know each other better. I would tell them a little about my childhood, growing up and playing for my father in Tenaha, Texas, playing football at Louisiana-Monroe, and about my family. I would ask them questions about them so we all could grow relationships and bond. Make sure the eight to ten players are from different position groups, so everyone gets to know each other better.
After we finished eating, I would then ask them this question: 'What do y'all think is the #1 factor that will determine if we have 'shock the world' this year?"
As you can imagine, most just gave me blank stares, so I would say this, 'it isn't going to be if 'Jim' (I would pick someone at the table) is all-state. Although that will help, if any of you make all-state, that will not be the main reason we have a tremendous season.'
'It isn't going to be because I am your head coach, and we have an elite coaching staff. I believe we do have coaches who are going to work their tails off to make this season special, but that will not be the main reason.'
'If we 'win it all' this season, it won't be because our booster club raised the most money they ever have. It won't be because we learn a new offense or defense. If you guys want to make this season one you will tell your grandkids about in fifty years; it will be because we have SPECIAL CAPTAINS.
'We must have captains and leaders who are servants at heart.' I then explain the premise of the book 'The Captain Class' with them and go over the attributes of the Tier 1 captains
'We do not have to have anything new to be remarkable. We just have to have guys like you who are willing to be Gerald McCoy and carry in pads for his teammates after practice. If you haven't shown your team this video, google it and do it immediately.
'We have to have leaders who care more about the team than their personal stats. I'm sure you're thinking...'is this really something that will create more wins?' Yes, it is counter-culture to what our society celebrates. If we are the team that loves each other the most, we will be SPECIAL. We will be a team remembered.'
Most of you reading this will not order the book and meet with your team or leaders. But, the few who do go the extra mile will see the benefit. You will do it year after year because it will help change how your seniors and leaders view their roles. Please let me know if you take this step. I would love to hear about it.