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Back to the Future: Steve Hansen on Leadership

Steve Hansen shares his thoughts on leadership, and what does leadership mean for coaches. 

**This is video is part of a six-part video series, featuring Steve Hansen talking about leadership throughout his coaching journey. To view all the videos in this series, click here. 

One of Steve Hansen’s coaching principles that is critical to his coaching process, is: 

“Identify the few critical things that will make the boat go faster, and spend 90% of your time on those things.” 

So, with that in mind…  

What are the few critical things important for coaches to understand around Leadership? 

It’s important to note that the role of the coach is very much a leadership role. Coaches are in charge of developing a group of people to achieve a shared goal, to improve their people’s competence, confidence and connection.  

Steve Hansen shared a few concepts that he has found critical for coaches to understand in order to be effective leaders. 

1| Self-awareness.  

As he shared in the video “knowing yourself is the most important thing, and then taking deliberate action on growth areas where you can be better”.  

2| Emotional Intelligence 

A big part of leadership is getting people to change their behaviour. A critical skill for coaches to develop, that will help them change their people’s behaviour is influence. And fundamental to being influential is emotional intelligence. Hansen states “The person who can influence others the most isn’t the smartest person, but the person with the most emotional intelligence”. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use, and manage your own emotions in positive ways to communicate effectively, empathise with others and defuse conflict.  

3| Build connections 

Coaches need to show they care about the people they’re leading. Engaging with their athletes as humans, finding out about them, their interests, their weaknesses, their insecurities, and their passions will help their athletes feel like they’re valued and like they matter. Doing this will result in a group of people committed to following them.  

How can coaches develop these leadership areas? 

To become more self-aware, Steve Hansen shared an insightful question in the video. He asked: 

“What type of leader do I want to be under pressure vs what I actually am under pressure?”  

That question creates a gap for coaches to analyse. What is the gap between where I am currently and where I want to be? Asking questions like this is a great place to start becoming more self-aware. 

To become more emotionally intelligent, try: 

  • Practising good listening skills. When you are having a conversation with an athlete or assistant coach, stay focused on what they are saying and resist the urge to listen to your own thoughts, to problem solve for them or to daydream. This will help give you better insight into how your people are thinking and feeling. 
  • Practising good observation skills. Make it a habit to step back from trainings or games at times to observe how your team is interacting, what the energy levels are like, and general mood of the group. Again, this will help give you better insight into how your people are thinking and feeling. 

To build an environment that has more connection: 

  • Be deliberate in building relationships with your athletes. Steve Hansen shared a story that he always gets to breakfast early and is the last to leave, so he can make time to connect with as many of the team as he can. Find situations like this, for example being early to training, staying late, sitting next to different people on team trips can all help coaches build connection. 
  • Prioritise time when your team is together to share things that are important to them outside of sport. This could be done over meals, before or after matches, or as part of trainings.  

View more of the Back to the Future Series with Steve Hansen below: 

Part 1: Steve Hansen on Innovation 

Part 2: Steve Hansen on Vulnerability 

Part 3: Steve Hansen on Motivation 

Part 4: Steve Hansen on Alignment 

Part 5: Steve Hansen on Resistors 

Image Credit: James Coleman

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