Change is an inevitable part of life and either you are shaping the world around you or you're being shaped by forces beyond your control. Astute leaders know this and not only disrupt the environment they inhabit and bend their surroundings to their will. But change is scary and if a leader loses control there can be dire consequences to face. With the help of Mark Fitzmaurice, a 30 year veteran at Dale Carnegie, CONQA explores the challenges that change brings.
We’ve spoken before how the modern style of leadership requires a nuanced humanist approach where an individual is emboldened to make mistakes. In this ever changing world, obtaining collective buy-in from the every member of the team is crucial to creating a winning environment. But is there still space for a more hard-nosed, authoritative style of leadership? We asked two of the leading minds in world sport, both of whom presented at our Elite Sport Summit earlier this year, to share their thoughts on the subject.
Elite athletes did not get to where they are by winning a raffle ticket. They have dedicated their lives to eking out every ounce of ability and talent they have through hard work and unbridled commitment. Sure, some work harder than others and some are more naturally talented, but every athlete at the top is an athletic marvel in their own right. However, as bizarre as it may seem, some have never learned how to move their body correctly. That's when they call in the experts.
Everyone grows up wanting to be the next Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James or Serena Williams. The reality is, that the vast majority of elite athletes play supporting roles in the background. But if the original goal was to be great, how does the coach or manager keep athletes motivated and content with their place? How does a competitive high performing athlete remain focussed, when their teammate is grabbing the headlines? With Phil Handy, assistant coach at the Cleveland Cavaliers, CONQA explores this unique challenge.
After our conversation with Professor Jennifer Chatman from the University of California, Berkeley, we have become entangled in the complexities a leader faces when confronted with a multi-cultural team. With the help of two of South Africa’s greatest sports leaders, we unpack the conversation even further to get to the heart of this unique challenge.
In these modern times, it seems the best teams have every basis covered when it comes to backroom staff. There’s the obvious strength and conditioning expert alongside a mental coach, but rosters are swelling at an alarming rate that we won’t be surprise when teams start employing a designated hairdresser or dog walker for their pampered stars. More people can mean more headaches for a head coach as managing different personalities is a challenge all on its own. With the help of Terry Condon, a man with experience managing teams within teams, CONQA unpacks the unique skillsets required to be a modern manager.
They say an army marches on its stomach and the same could be said for an elite NFL team. The Dallas Cowboys have a new member in their ranks but he’s not responsible for tackling, running or throwing a football. Instead, Scott Senhert, Director of Sports Performance at the Cowboys, is tasked with the job of making sure the hulking footballers eat right. As he explains to CONQA, this is often easier said than done.
The world might be hurtling towards a hegemonic global village, but it’s not there yet. Multiple cultures, worldviews, identities and philosophies permeate throughout every facet of society and sometimes, coalescing individuals under a unified ethos can be a challenge for even the most astute leaders. With Professor Jennifer Chatman at the University of California, Berkeley, CONQA explores the challenges of managing a diverse team.
The Crusaders are just four matches away from completing a remarkable unbeaten season in Super Rugby. Their success has been built on an innovative approach to maintaining and increasing fitness as the long gruelling season has progressed. CONQA speaks to Simon Thomas, head off strength and conditioning at the franchise.
Another global tournament, another humiliating early exist from South Africa as the Proteas once again succumbed to pressure and played far below their usually high standards. But fear not; this will not be an exploration of that crushing defeat to India but rather a viable solution to any athlete or team struggling with the vice grip of pressure.
In an exclusive interview, CONQA sat down with the Chief of the Singapore Sports Institute to discuss the small nation’s ambitious plan to be recognised not only as a host to the world, but as a force to be reckoned on courts, tracks, fields and in pools around the world.
Who’d be an elite coach? The merry-go-round at the top can be a daunting prospect for any manager and in this line of work, even the very best get the axe. But as we see time and time again, appointing a new manager often has an immediate positive impact on the team. Maybe there is some logic behind the madness. Two experts in their field with decades of experience help CONQA unpack the effect new managers have on teams and find ways to replicate that for those who are trying to keep their job.
All records are made to be broken but some are just never expected to do so. One of those was Michael Johnson's 43.18 set in the 400m in 1999. However, at the Olympic Games in Rio last year, Wayde van Niekerk smashed it out the park with a mind blowing 43.03. The women behind his success, "Tannie Ans" Botha, speaks to CONQA on how that record has changed their relationship, how the pair are striving for more success and what it would take to join the pantheon of greats who claim gold in both the 400m and 200m.
The South African Blitzboks need at least a Cup quarterfinal appearance in each of their remaining two tournaments to be crowned champions of the 2016-17 World Rugby Sevens Series. However, such premature talks of titles can prove derailing and in an exlusive interview with CONQA, coach Neil Powell explains how his team is maintaining their focus.
Ground breaking work being done out of a UK based company is set to change the way we look at human performance forever. By measuring brain waves and mapping them against performances on the field, elite sport is on the verge of measuring the unmeasurable concepts such as form, mindset and psychological well-being of athletes.
At what point does the integrity of competition become tarnished by the intrusion of science? Elite sport’s mission is to push the boundaries of human performance, but if those boundaries are bridged by variables beyond the realm of physical ability, does sport lose its purpose? With the help of world renowned sports scientist Ross Tucker, CONQA addresses these important questions.
After making history with Leicester City last season, Claudio Ranieri is now out of a job after the Foxes parted ways with the Italian manager after a woeful defence of their English Premier League Crown. Half a world away, a cricket coach offers a sympathetic voice. Paddy Upton, coach of several cricket sides around the globe including the Sydney Thunder, helps CONQA unpack the struggles a championship winning coach can go through.
The true test for any elite athlete is bouncing back from adversity. For the Lions half back pair of Elton Jantjies and Faf de Klerk, the climb up from last season’s poor showing with the national side will be an arduous journey. With high performance coach, Tim Goodenough, CONQA explores the process of rebuilding confidence to return to the top.
Modern day sport is a monstrous machine that is driven by money in order to churn out results. That is an inescapable truth. So why then has there been so much pushback from traditional powerhouses of football at the rise of RB Leipzig in the German Bundesliga and the exorbitant amount of money being spent in the Chinese Super League. CONQA explores the hypocrisy in modern sport.
The world game’s global showpiece is set to expand from 32 to 40 teams as of the 2026 edition, a decision that has divided opinion across the world. Here, two writers with very different opinions weigh in on the debate and offer compelling arguments for both sides of the divide.