12 LEADERSHIP LESSONS FROM TED LASSO

“Ted Lasso?” Some of you may be thinking, “That name sounds familiar.” Some of you may not know the name at all. But I suspect most of you will know him as the loveable lead character in the 2020 hit comedy series on Apple + of the same name.

Ted Lasso, played by Jason Sudeikis, is a victorious Division 2 Collegiate Football Coach from Kansas City who is surprisingly recruited to be the Head Coach (Manager) of the struggling English Premiership soccer club A.F.C. Richmond in London.

This show provides constant chuckles and feel-good moments, as Lasso and his Assistant Coach navigate the culture shock, and seemingly impossible task of coaching a sport they’ve never coached. You could be forgiven for viewing the show as nothing more than a fun, silly, fish out of water tale. However, for me, this show also provides profound lessons in leadership, and how to successfully create a culture led organization.

From episode 1, Ted Lasso demonstrates that what he lacks in game knowledge and tactics, he makes up for in emotional intelligence.

Here are my main leadership takeaways from this brilliantly uplifting series:

1. LEAD WITH EMPATHY

Lasso takes the time to listen to people around him, and always tries to put himself in their shoes so he can fully understand them, and figure out how he can get the best out of them. As a result, each person he interacts with is left feeling cared for and heard.

2. NEVER TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY

As you can imagine, Ted’s credibility and coaching methods were subject to immediate and ongoing judgment, bolstered by unfavorable name calling from the British public, and even his own players. Lasso shows us how to stay grounded in who you are and your leadership philosophies despite overwhelming scrutiny.

3. WINNING AND LOSING IS NOT EVERYTHING

Winning and losing provides incentive and motivation to perform at our best, and yes, both of them carry consequences, especially in professional sport. Yet Coach Lasso doesn’t view winning as everything, or indeed the only thing. For him, the journey of inspiring others to grow and step into possibility is what drives him as a leader.

4. EQUALITY OVER HIERARCHY

This is immediately evident with the relationship Lasso forges with the scantly respected “kit man” Nathan. Just as Lasso disregards rank at the ground level, he also strives to bridge the gap to the highest level of the organization, always encouraging the club’s owner Rebecca to “join the team downstairs” more often.

As you can imagine, Ted’s credibility and coaching methods were subject to immediate and ongoing judgment, bolstered by unfavorable name calling from the British public, and even his own players. Lasso shows us how to stay grounded in who you are and your leadership philosophies despite overwhelming scrutiny.

5. EMPOWERMENT BREEDS CONFIDENCE

A follow up to the previous point, the most obvious example of this is once again the way Coach Lasso empowers his kit man to perform tasks beyond his role. He also encourages each player to give their input on game tactics, which creates a sense of ownership, leading to more engagement and motivation.

6. NOBODY IS BIGGER THAN THE TEAM

Coaching a team of high performers will likely mean managing large egos and resolving personality conflicts. Lasso tirelessly communicates his message that the team comes first, no matter your talent or superstar status. This is probably why the head coach is called the manager in English football.

7. OPTIMISM IS INFECTIOUS

Ted Lasso is the eternal optimist, and this creates a mixture of first impressions. Not everybody knows how to take Ted’s almost over the top enthusiasm and positivity, but despite their initial resistance, they inevitably develop a soft spot for him. Lasso’s “can-do” attitude creates a ripple effect that raises the collective vibration around him.

8. HUMOR CUTS THROUGH TENSION

It is a comedy after all, yet there is something to be said about injecting humor into a high pressure environment at the right time, helping to ease the tension and remind players to relax and enjoy their work.

9. EMBRACE CHANGE

The thought of leaving the comfort of your hometown to live in a foreign city abroad is scary enough for most people. Add to that coaching a sport you know nothing about at the professional level, and you’re left with very few individuals who’d be willing to take that on. Aside from the main plot being a glaring example of massive change, Lasso faces changes within the change throughout, embracing each challenge with humility and grace, always looking for the opportunities they present.

10. BE A GOLDFISH

Which is the best animal to embody when you make a mistake? The one with a memory that lasts between 5 – 10 seconds of course. Next time you need to shake it off and get back to optimal performance...be a goldfish.

11. COURAGEOUS LEADERSHIP EARNS TRUST

It is painfully obvious from the outset that having uncomfortable conversations is not a strength of Coach Lasso, which is to be expected from a man who is always so darn friendly. Despite his discomfort, he still finds the courage to have the crucial conversations anyway, because he knows it will improve the individual, and serve the culture of the team. Without giving away too much from the show, he also makes some massively courageous decisions in the face of ridicule, that earns the respect and trust of the people that matter the most.

12. BELIEVE

Self doubt can be crippling, especially when the odds seem stacked against us. It is virtually impossible for us to achieve our desires if we don't believe we are either capable, or deserving of achieving them. Ted Lasso teaches us that we must believe to achieve, and remember to have as much fun as possible on the journey.

 

Ted Lasso Season 1 is available now on Apple+. Click HERE to watch the official trailer.

Posted in EQ in Sports.

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