How they pulled off a miracle!

The Springbok’s mantra the ‘Main Thing’ inspired them to win the Rugby World Cup. This case study could help to transform your leadership perspective.

What inspirational leadership behaviour stirred up this team’s miracle performance?

The Springbok 2019 journey to victory is an inspirational story of hope against all odds, of authentic leadership and humility, and of self-belief and dreams coming true on a world stage for the nation’s first truly diverse Springbok team, led by our first black Captain.

Eighteen months before the 2019 Rugby World Cup, the Springboks ranked number seven in the world and had suffered some of their worst losses in their history, in 2016 and 2017. Based on results, this was perhaps the worst side ever to represent South Africa. Back then, what Rassie Erasmus and Siya Kolisi achieved in Japan seemed a certain impossibility. And today, we can consider it one of the greatest turnarounds the rugby world has ever seen.

In this case study, we explore the good decisions made by the Springboks’ inspirational leaders and see how those decisions led to a historic moment for the nation; we unpack the high-performance habits and self-belief that shaped the Springboks’ new identity and ask: What inspirational leadership behaviours stirred up this miracle of high performance?

The Coach, The Captain and two business models for Inspirational Leadership

It is often assumed that the ability to inspire is innate. It’s not. It can be developed. Compare the Springboks Coach and Captain’s remarkable journey to World Cup success to Bain’s Inspirational Leadership model and see how even one distinguishing strength nearly doubles your chances of being inspiring. The finding underscores the power of authenticity: no combination of strengths is statistically more powerful than any other. Inspirational leaders come in many varieties.

Explore the authentic relationship between Coach and Captain, their approaches to diversity and inclusion and see how they influenced the team’s ability to perform to expectation. Notice how the concepts of alignment and centredness emerge as we learn how these inspirational leaders adjusted their thinking, decisions and actions in agile, creative and positive ways.

“By being so open and transparent Rassie got the guys buying into it. We were all on the same page from day one, whether it was selection or buying into the strategy.” – Francois Louw

Ignite Team and Leadership Conversations

  • How might we identify the habits that will help us inspire and shape a new identity for high performance?
  • What inspirational leadership behaviours should you enlarge? Which existing behaviours should you let go of?
  • How are you ‘leaning in’ to understand what your people need from you right now? What role does self-belief play in high performance?
  • We all know stories where each individual is better for having someone by their side (where each is enlarged by the other). We ask: Who are we enlarging? Who is enlarging us?
  • How might you view diversity and inclusion as a lever for high performance?

Format and Approach

Engage your teams in a multimedia, facilitator-led conversation on Zoom, supported with interactive moderated conversations in breakout rooms (hosted by our team of Pod Coaches).


This case study is available in a 90-minute or 180-minute online (Zoom) format.

How does it work?

  • Contact us to let us know that you want LRMG to share this case study with your team
  • We will work with you to design or customise key conversation and reflection questions
  • Participants will get a link to a pre-case study primer to complete prior to the presentation and conversation
  • Your team will receive our Inspirational Leadership Toolkit as a take-away to ignite further learning and reflection

“Kolisi employed a unique leadership style of inclusivity. While that selfless approach earned him the buy-in of his team mates, it also gave him the backing of the country’s rugby public.” – Lloyd Burnard

Are you interested in moving your people?

Fill in the form below and we will give you access to this exciting resource

Fill in the form below and we will give you access to this exciting resource

Fill in the form below and we will give you access to this exciting resource

Fill in the form below and we will give you access to this exciting resource.

Fill in the form below and we will give you access to this exciting resource

Fill in the form below and we will give you access to this exciting resource

Fill in the form below and we will give you access to this exciting resource

Fill in the form below and we will give you access to this exciting resource

Fill in the form below and we will give you access to this exciting resource


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