What Makes a Great Leader?

When Wall Street Journal Deputy Editor Sam Walker began work on “The Captain Class,” he knew he wanted to investigate what shaped the greatest sports dynasties of all time. His discoveries led him to one conclusion: All of these teams had a great leader at their center, a person who was their emotional core. “The Captain Class” ended up becoming one part sports book and one part exploration of what it takes to be a great leader in any field.

When he started his research, Walker states, “I assumed it would be superstar talent or the coach or, you know, a lot of money or great tactics [that led to lasting success].” Instead, he found that a focal, vocal leader was the uniting factor. These people, like Bill Russell of the Celtics and Carla Overbeck of the U.S. women’s soccer team, were more invested in raising their teams as a whole than being a lone star. They talked constantly during games and were reliable, guiding presences.

The lesson is that leadership comes from raising up those around you, and constant communication extends far beyond the world of sports. Whether you want to be a better leader in business, at home, or in other arenas of your life, you’ll benefit from Walker’s investigation into the greatest winners the sports world has ever seen.