How other managers and leaders can learn from Stuart Lancaster

It is said that the cornerstone of emotional intelligence in self awareness, yet many leaders and managers are still unaware of the effect their actions and behaviour has on others.

In an interview he recently gave with the Times, the England rugby coach Stuart Lancaster has recounted his own journey to becoming the saviour of rugby team who despite playing on the international stage were at their lowest ebb in decades. He says that emotional intelligence is the key to getting the best out of everyone.

“I was never academically straight A’s, but being self-aware of your own strengths and weaknesses, I am pretty good at that.” Self-awareness is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence and yet many managers and leaders are unaware of how their behaviour impacts others. Too many believe that everybody sees the world in the way that they see it and are therefore surprised when they are not followed! And yet managers can quickly get to understand the preferences that often impact their behaviours by utilising personality profiling tools like, for example,the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator.

When Stuart took the reins of managing the England team last year, his lack of international experience was predicted by some to be his downfall and yet his team has got better and better over the past few months and display a belief in his methods. Stuart has demonstrated that not only is he self-aware but also aware of how to build and maintain relationships, another facet of emotional intelligence.

Lancaster calls Emotional Intelligence “the key requirement to get the best out of people”. This kind of thinking is sometimes lacking in the managerial working world. A manager can rely far too much on cold, hard logic, and forget about the people behind the statistics. A recent report for example stated that many employees never received a ‘thank-you’ from their manager. Reading between the lines, showing appropriate empathy and the ability to judge groupthink is sometimes vital for an effective managerial strategy whether on a rugby pitch or in an organisation.

Another key to Lancaster’s success seems to be his lack of ego and desire to learn and get better himself. Often when managers get promoted to a senior position they relax, thinking that at last they have ‘made it’. Lancaster by contrast seems to have taken his promotion as very much the start of a journey not the end.

In the off season he is often found, apparently, learning and listening to coaches in a variety of other sports especially cycling which is perhaps the sport most associated with embracing similar ideas around positive psychology. He also encourages his staff and importantly his team to be continually learning.

How many managers create a learning culture in their organisations that enables staff to grown and be engaged in their own development? Lancaster seems to instinctively understand that the manager sets the tone and so, the culture and this is as much his job as is team tactics and strategy.

Iridium Consulting offers a range of management development programmes for improving emotional intelligence in the workplace. Call the team on  01604 589675 to find out more or visit