What's the Hottest Leadership Book in Professional Sports?

Posted on January 07, 2019 by Medtech[y] Staff


The connection between sports and leadership cannot be denied. Sales leaders and executives are always looking to examples from the sports world to use as motivation for their organizations.

I witnessed this first hand during my first year in sales. Our sales VP played football at the University of Colorado and, without fail, he would stand at the front of the room at the end of each quarter and say,“We’re right on the goal line” and other football references as a way to motivate us to hit our numbers.

Even as an athlete myself, the speeches felt a little overboard. This is business, right? Not the actual 4th quarter of a football game or the 9th inning of a baseball game?

Well, as my career progressed, pulling those sports experiences still felt relevant. Yes, they happened many years ago, but they helped shape what teamwork meant to me and how I could relate those experiences to my professional career.

With all of this said, it should not come as a surprise that the business world is once again looking to the sports world to improve leadership skills through a book being passed around executives and players in the world of professional sports.

The book is called The Captain Class and it was named one of the best business books of the year by CNBC, The New York Times, Forbes, strategy+business, The Globe and Mail, and Sports Illustrated.

The head football coach of the Chicago Bears, Matt Nagy, gave the book to his young quarterback, Mitchell Trubisky, who had this to say about the book:

“The book taught me that there’s no cookie-cutter way to lead. Leading is not just what Hollywood tells you. It’s not the big pregame speech. It’s how you carry yourself every day, how you treat the people around you, who you are as a person.”

It’s been reported that Mitchell Trubisky raved about the book so much that it ended up being passed around the locker room and has become one of the focal points of the team’s leadership development through this past season.

Amazon had his write-up about the book:

The seventeen most dominant teams in sports history had one thing in common: Each employed the same type of captain—a singular leader with an unconventional set of skills and tendencies. Drawing on original interviews with athletes, general managers, coaches, and team-building experts, Sam Walker identifies the seven core qualities of the Captain Class—from extreme doggedness and emotional control to tactical aggression and the courage to stand apart. Told through riveting accounts of pressure-soaked moments in sports history, The Captain Class will challenge your assumptions of what inspired leadership looks like.

“Wildly entertaining and thought-provoking . . . makes you reexamine long-held beliefs about leadership and the glue that binds winning teams together.”—Theo Epstein, president of baseball operations, Chicago Cubs

“A great read . . . Sam Walker used data and a systems approach to reach some original and unconventional conclusions about the kinds of leaders that foster enduring success. Most business and leadership books lapse into clichés. This one is fresh.”—Jeff Immelt, chairman and former CEO, General Electric

“I can’t tell you how much I loved The Captain Class. It identifies something many people who’ve been around successful teams have felt but were never able to articulate. It has deeply affected my thoughts around how we build our culture.”—Derek Falvey, chief baseball officer, Minnesota Twins

As all of us look to start the new year off with resolutions, this may be the book to help jump-start your creative process and help your team tackle 2019. We highly recommend this book to improve your team and also improve the leadership across your team and organization as a whole.