Do superstar athletes truly relate to the struggles most people have to endure to reach the peak of their sport? After all, these once in a lifetime athletes perform seemingly impossible feats with apparent ease. If not, can superstar athletes skipper a team filled with less talented individuals? CONQA explores the challenges of captaincy and how talent can often get in the way of good leadership.
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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.
Allister Coetzee has been appointed the 23rd Springbok rugby coach and has immediately sought to establish an era marked with youth and excitement. With an average age of just under 26 years, this is a team that might lack experience but has all the potential for something truly great. What Coetzee will need to do is unify all 31 players under a single ethos – perhaps the most challenging task for any head coach or manager of a national team.
Nothing divides opinion in elite sport like the selection of a team before a major tournament. Everyone has their favourite combination of players and anyone who contradicts them is not only wrong, but an insult to the game they love. Roy Hodgson, manager of England’s national football team, has a tough choice to make: whether or not to include Wayne Rooney in his plans for European domination. It’s a tough decision to make, and one that will depend on more than purely footballing reasons
Like a family member or loved one, our favourite athletes and teams reach into our hearts and souls and pull on certain strings that compel us to be biased. We can’t help it. There’s nothing we can do. Our athletes and teams are just and virtuous, and exempt from derision, while the opposition is the antithesis: deceitful, unsportsmanlike, unworthy of praise or achievement. The subjective nature of sport creates an environment where the same action or behaviour can yield very different responses depending on which side of the fence you sit.
When Alexander the Great brought his Macedonian army in front of the uncountable force of the Persian Empire, he apparently eased the concerns of his generals with a thought on leadership: "I am more afraid of an army of sheep lead by a lion, than an army of lions lead by a sheep", or something akin to that. Great captains can make ordinary teams great. Some are worth there place in the side through their leadership alone. But what makes a great captain, and is leadership a skill or an innate gift bestowed on a few? CONQA Sport explores.