The Mindful Leadership Blog

Just In! Seven Proven Ways to Lead from the Middle

February 1st, 2018

What’s hot?

Sam Walker, Deputy Editor, WSJ, studied 16 all-time sports teams to discover the common qualities of elite team leaders.  In his book, “The Captain Class,” Walker reveals the seven traits of elite team captains.

So what?

One of Walker’s interesting findings is that even though a lot of teams assign the role of captain to the best player, that’s not what is most successful.  Walker’s studies reveal that the superstar and the coach tend to be two poles of power on a team. The captain’s role is always a middle manager – an intermediary between the players and the coaches. The unique characteristics of elite captains have tremendous cross-over to leadership and team success in all realms: sports, business and life!

What to do?

Test Walker’s theory in your daily activities.  Look for opportunities to develop the following capabilities:

  1. Extreme doggedness and focus in competition
  2. Willingness to test the limits of the rules
  3. Ironclad emotional control

We view the first three attributes as interconnected.  #1 and #2 are ineffective without strong impulse control. The captains sited in Walker’s book would get downright aggressive on the playing field – especially in defense of their team members. They tested the limits of the rules under win or lose circumstances and they did it all purposefully. They had emotions without letting their emotions have them.

  1. A willingness to do thankless jobs in the shadows
  2. A low-key, practical and democratic communication style
  3. The ability to motivate others with passionate non-verbal displays
  4. Strong convictions and courage to stand apart

To learn more:  Get a copy of “The Captain Class: The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams” by Sam Walker (Random House, 2017)

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