Through the trials and many challenges involved with a turnaround process, he began an intense interest and study in the dynamics of team leadership.
Entering the Educational Leadership Doctorate program at Seattle University in 2006, Willenbrock earned his Ed.D. in 2009. The topic of his dissertation; Shared Leadership as a System of Team Captaincy in College Football, provides insight on an alternative to the traditional “team captain” model used almost exclusively in football. After going 1-17 his first two exhaustive seasons at Puget Sound, it became apparent that the one most critical aspect of team culture/ performance that had not yet been addressed was peer leadership (the influence of teammates on each other). Through using a leadership development curriculum with the senior class, a transformative culture was established. This culture set the framework for greater teammate buy-in, enthusiasm, mutual respect, communication and character, cultivating a renaissance period of competitiveness, leadership and service.

Peer Leadership and Team Captains play a vital and sometimes ignored role in team culture. All coaches have experienced less than exemplary Team Captains whose leadership was mis-aligned with program principles and created negative media, game-week distractions and team dis-trust at a minimum. In reality, TEAM CAPTAINS are most often elevated to their leadership status based on the 4 P’s (Personality, Position, Power and Performance) and other factors greatly unrelated to leadership ability.

Making a commitment to be pro active and purposeful in developing the Leadership ability of players whom teammates recognize or perceive as being individuals of significant influence will enable Coaches/ Administrators/ Supervisors to effectively execute a system of leadership development that will pay immediate dividends in the short term and lasting lessons for team members moving into the future.

Willenbrock’s recent work includes the publishing of the C.L.A.S.S. Leadership Actualization Program designed for team captains and team leaders. The Curriculum Coaches Manual includes 330 pages organized into 14 Chapters, each covering an aspect of leadership. Associated with the Coaches manual is a student workbook containing 100 Activities associated with Lessons in the Coaches Manual. This resource is an excellent way to install Leadership into any program and is an invaluable resource.


Leadership Consulting by Dr. Willenbrock offering Team Leadership development Services including:

C.L.A.S.S. Leadership Actualization Program (Leadership Curriculum for Coaches to teach leadership)

Team Leadership Assessment

Team Leader Seminars

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