Leadership as Seen Through the Lens of the Captain Class

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Leadership as Seen Through the Lens of the Captain Class

It seems that every NBA final inspires me to write another blog using sports as an analogy for leadership in general.  For several years it’s been LeBron and whoever he’s playing. He’s been amazing but he still needs a talented team around him. The Golden State Warriors (GS) just have too much talent for a one-man team to overcome. His frustration level was so high this year that he broke his hand in the locker room after an inexplicable loss in the first game of the Finals. GS went on to sweep the Cavs in 4.

GS has 2 super stars in Steph Curry and Kevin Durant, Both of them are super stars and can be counted on in the clutch. This year it was Kevin Durant, again. The commonsense explanation is there’s too much fire power for Lebron or any other team to beat. The GS’s are now being mentioned as possibly the best dynasty in NBA history.

I’m currently reading a book called THE CAPTAIN CLASS by Sam Walker. The subtitle is ‘The Hidden Force That Creates the World’s Greatest Teams’. Walker set out several years ago to answer one of the most hotly debated questions in sport. What are the greatest teams of all time? He developed a formula, then applied it thousands of teams from leagues all over the world…from the NBA to the English Premier League to Olympic Field Hockey. When he was done, he had a list of the 16 most dominant teams in history (Tier One). At that point he became obsessed with another, more complicated question:

What Did These Freak Teams Have in Common?

As Walker dug into their stories, a pattern emerged. Each team had the same type of captain…a singular type of leader with an unconventional skill set who drove it to achieve sustained historic greatness.

To qualify as a Tier One team, it’s dominance had to stretch over at least 4 years to eliminate luck from the equation. That’s why teams like the Patriots and Mickey Mantle’s NY Yankees and even Michael Jordan’s Bulls didn’t qualify for the top 16 teams.

Walker’s research and premise actually started several years ago before the book was published. That means that the Golden State Warriors hadn’t achieved their dominance quite yet. I believe that if Walker were starting his research today, GS would be one of the 16.

So, if Walker’s premise is true, I started to look at the Warriors thru the lens of the Captain Class.

GS has played in the NBA Finals for the last 4 years and won the Championship in 2015,2017, and 2018 with no apparent end in sight. Everyone knows about Steph Curry and Kevin Durant.

Draymond Green Is typically an afterthought. Did you know that when Green was on the floor last season, GS outscored their opponents by a shocking 1070 points. That hasn’t been done in the last 20 years.

Try as I might, I can’t find out for sure, who the captain of the Warriors is, But, consider these two quotes:

  • “Draymond is the VOICE of the Dubs (nickname for the Warriors).” Steph Curry
  • “Draymond is the HEART of the team.” Steve Kerr, Head Coach

I don’t know about you, but when the head coach and arguably the MVP for the Warriors call you the voice and heart of the team, that’s a strong argument for calling Draymond Green captain of the team.

The bottom line is that the world’s greatest teams all have one thing in common. It’s not the super star it’s the unheralded captain of the these teams that makes the difference. My vote goes for Draymond Green.

So, to summarize my blog, Leadership is not the difference, Leadership is THE difference maker. The team captain (the voice and the heart) of any organization needs to be recognized for his contribution and value to the team.

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