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How Emotionally Intelligent Coaching Contributed to the Springboks World Cup Triumph

How Emotionally Intelligent Coaching Contributed to the Springboks World Cup Triumph

South Africa won the 2023 Rugby Union World Cup, beating the All Blacks by 1-point in Paris. They followed up their triumph against England in 2019 with another stunning victory in France, to win the trophy for a record fourth time.

There were many factors that contributed to the success of the team such as strong levels of togetherness, physical prowess, competitiveness, and being committed to achieving a common goal. However, another key element that contributed to their record-breaking win was the influence of one of the coaches, Jacques Nienaber. 

In an interview after they beat the All Blacks at the weekend, Siya Kolisi mentioned that Nienaber cares about the players as people. He said: 

"I can't believe what we've achieved today. The coaching staff have been ridiculous. I have worked with Jacques since I was 17-years-old…We grew up around him -- me and Frans [Malherbe], Steven Kitshoff and Pieter-Steph [du Toit]. He cared about us as people. He asks, 'are you going to let your daughter down, your son down?' It became far deeper than just a rugby game."

It might seem obvious, but these comments by Kolisi get to the heart of what characterises the most successful coaches in the world. 

The best coaches are emotionally intelligent. They work hard to understand their athletes as people, not just as performers - i.e. what makes them tick, what they do in their spare time, and how things are at home.

As a leader, when you satisfy people's basic human needs such as safety, security and a feeling of belonging, they will exert extra effort for you to achieve the collective goals of the group.

Whether Nienaber's ability to connect with his players and cultivate high-quality relationships came naturally to him or not, there's no doubt his leadership and coaching style helped the Springboks win the world cup for the fourth time.

The exciting thing for coaches reading this blog is that the skills Nienaber deployed to form emotional connections, build trust, and influence his players are skills that can be learned and developed. 

At HeadCoach, through our cutting-edge mobile app, we help you cultivate Emotional Intelligence (EQ) competencies to enhance your leadership performance. Empathy, Relationship Skills, and Self-Awareness -  all skillfully deployed by Nienaber - are just a few of the skills you can learn if you choose to embrace our technology.

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