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Great Teams Rely on… You’ll Never Guess! The Character of the Captain.

By Marty Callahan

The best teams throughout history have depended on the CHARACTER of the PLAYER who leads it. They don’t rely on a once in a lifetime elite player. They don’t rely on a brilliant coach. And, they don’t rely on an astute front office. What they do rely on is the strength of character of the player who is in the thick of things… the player in the field.

I came across this as I was looking through my newsfeed. The article was in Business Insider, it was written by Richard Feloni. He was presenting the question of who was the most important person on a truly exceptional team. Feloni was talking about research done by Sam Walker and written about in his book, The Captain Class. Walker had completed an 11-year research project in which he had analyzed more than 1200 teams going back to the 1880s. He found that the most successful teams throughout history all had a great captain. But he went further and asked the question, what makes a great captain? He determined that they all had seven traits:

Seven Traits of a Great Captain

  1. They were extremely resilient.
  2. They play to the limits of the rules.
  3. They do thankless jobs.
  4. They communicate clearly with all members of their team.
  5. They motivate through nonverbal displays.
  6. They have strong convictions and aren’t afraid to be different.
  7. They have total control of their emotions.

And last, Walker found, that the truly great captains played for their team and not for their egos.

Sound familiar? If anyone ever gives you grief about why you’re sending your child to a character and leadership development school, aka: Shotokan Karate Leadership School, now you can tell them why.



Marty Callahan has spent his life understanding and improving the lives of students both young and old. His passion led to the founding of Shotokan Karate Leadership School in Santa Rosa, CA in 1981 with a dream to awaken the extraordinary leader in his students. Having inspired, taught, coached, supported, and trained over 15,000 students in 40,000 classes in Santa Rosa, Marty has become Sonoma County’s preeminent martial arts leadership instructor. His students, hundreds of whom have gone on to become leaders in their chosen fields, appreciate his engaging, student centered approach to teaching and they believe you will too.