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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We spend roughly 23 minutes of every hour at work trying to move people in a certain direction. We might be driven by selfish motives or we might be altruistic in nature. Either way, the process of exerting influence over another human being is something we spend close to half of our working time trying to accomplish. Tom Bird, best-selling author and speaker on the art of influence, speaks to CONQA and outlines the key attributes a leader must possess in order to influence people. As you would imagine, there is no one size fits all model but by following a general formula, anyone can become influential.
Rather than look back on the year that was, CONQA Sport is casting an eye on 2017 and calling on the powers that be to make some changes to improve the games we love. In the cutthroat world of top level sport, stagnation is suicide and so, along with some of the leading figures in the industry, we have compiled a 2017 wish list for a happy and elite new year.
It’s a throwaway term for pundits and scribes whenever a coach bumbles his way through a press conference after his team has lost another game, but what does “losing the dressing room” actually mean? CONQA Sport explores this fascinating concept and calls on two legends in their field to help out. Next time you hear this phrase, you will have a better understanding of its meaning and nuance.
Two giants of world sport have recently felt the painful bump of reaching bedrock and now have to make some dramatic changes if they want to taste the glories of the past. South African rugby and Australian cricket sides used to command respect from opposition by virtue of their dominance. Today they are both facing unprecedented crises. CONQA Sport offers a way out for both of these once proud juggernauts.
In elite sport, all athletes are equal; some however are undoubtedly more equal than others. In a world where human beings are separated by their abilities on the field, is it fair to treat everyone equally? Is this egalitarian utopia even worth pursuing? Would this approach negatively impact the creativity and flair of star athletes and how can coaches navigate this dilemma without alienating the rest of the squad? CONQA Sport explores these questions and more.
Every single one of us gets lambasted for a job poorly done from time to time. Criticism can severely impact performance but luckily for most of us, the amount of people who have access to our shame is very small. Imagine that all your work, good or bad, was public knowledge. Imagine that everyone with a smartphone could vent how terrible they thought you were at your job. Imagine newspapers, radio stations and online blogs were about to call you out for a perceived ineptitude to millions of people around the world. Now you have a taste of what being an under fire head coach of an elite sports team feels like when results aren’t going their way. CONQA Sport explores how owning and directing the narrative can help coaches navigate these difficult times.
Change takes time, and more often than not is a difficult and arduous process. In the realm of elite sport, a ruthless industry to begin with, change often means sacrificing results in order to change course and head in a new direction. For the Springboks, South Africa’s proud national rugby team, a change in identity has coincided with a dramatic downturn in performances. Naturally, the media and public are up in arms, but should they be showing a touch more patience and understanding? CONQA Sport unpacks this rebuilding phase that South African rugby is going through and offers a sympathetic and measured view on the situation.
If succeeding as an elite athlete was easy, we’d all be doing it. So many variables have to go exactly right for a young talent to make it to the top. Hard work, struggle, sacrifice; talent means nothing if a young prospect is not willing to go the extra mile. But if what if the key to success meant going further than a mile? What if the path to greatness lay outside the boundaries of one’s home country and was paved in a foreign land? CONQA Sport explores why youth development needs travel and why so many young English footballers are unwilling to leave the nest.
What is it about certain sports fans that compel them take success for granted? Is it simply the desire to see your team succeed that obscures the truth, or is it something more complex? Once a nation or club enjoys a spell of dominance, expectations rise and leave a high water mark for future generations. Unfortunately, the natural ebb and flow of success means that on field performances do not always match expectations. CONQA Sport explores how accomplished legacies often breed entitlement.
In elite sport, stagnation is a death knell. In order to stay ahead of the competition, new techniques and strategies must be actively sought and implemented. Every coach or athlete is after the next big thing that will propel them to greatness, but is it an idealistic dream to assume that innovation is something that can be taught? CONQA Sport examines the concept of innovation and finds that in the right environment, genius can flourish.
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary and Thesaurus, an ‘expert’ is defined as someone “having or showing special skill or knowledge because of what you have been taught or what you have experienced.” Elite sport is littered with experts, and countless others who fancy themselves as one. With all that expertise floating around, coaches and managers are often tempted to bring in an external source of knowledge to improve their athletes’ performance. But is this necessary? What if a shift in mindset turned the focus inward and tapped into the wealth of internal knowledge within the playing group? CONQA Sport speaks with Paddy Upton and discovers that the solution to the problem is often right under your nose.
With less than a month to go before the world descends on Rio for the 27th Summer Olympic Games, thousands of athletes, coaches and sports practitioners are gearing up for the flagship sporting event of the year. The largest contingent will be representing the red, white and blue of the United States of America and such a big team comes with a host of big challenges. Finbarr Kirwan is a High Performance Director at the United States Olympics Committee (USOC) heading up two of the largest teams at the Games: track and field and swimming. He walks us through some of the obstacles he faces and divulges how he and his team are plotting for gold.
Elite sport is cutthroat industry where the only thing that matters is the success of the team. Coaches and managers who fail to meet the expectations of fans and stake holders all too often get the sack. This can be a difficult and painful process. Stuart Lancaster knows what this feels like as he was axed as England Rugby’s head coach last year and has been replaced by Eddie Jones. Jones has enjoyed a successful start to his tenure but as CONQA Sport discovers, part of that success may be due to an unprecedented show of maturity and goodwill from Lancaster. Hopefully, his selfless act can used as a model for coaches and federations in the future.
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.
Have you ever wondered why supremely gifted athletes don’t always form successful partnerships? Together with Warren Kennaugh, a behavioural strategist with over 20 years’ experience working with some of the world’s most successful teams, we uncover what constitutes a winning pairing. With elite teams constantly searching for the smallest gain in performance, perhaps the secret to success could be hidden in the emotions and values of their star athletes.
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
In elite sport winning is hard enough, winning time and time again is almost impossible. And yet some teams manage to do it. Throughout history there have been sporting dynasties that dominate their code with an air of impunity. But how do they do it? What is the secret to sustained success? Great British Cycling Team are establishing themselves as a modern dynasty. Few others have swept all before them in consecutive Olympic Games, and with Rio 2016 just a few months away, this era of dominance shows no sign of stopping.
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.
There’s nothing like sport to get one’s emotions soaring. Nothing compares to the thrills you feel when your team secures a dramatic victory or the agony of watching the athletes you love fail to reach their potential. Elite sports teams know this and now tap into that emotion by building a brand and an ideology that transcends the borders of the field of play. Fan engagement means so much more than merely rolling out a colourful banner and building positive brand equity could prove the difference between a successful season and another mediocre one. CONQA Sport explores how off-field marketing can drive on-field performance.