Advice for Team Leaders from Coach Ted Lasso

AppleTV+’s Ted Lasso entered our homes and our hearts at a time when we all really needed a feel-good escape from reality. If you haven’t watched yet, here’s a little recap. (And then we’ll get to how it applies to what we do!)

Ted Lasso is a successful FCS-level college football coach from Wichita who is suddenly recruited to London to be the head coach for the struggling Premiere League soccer club, AFC Richmond. It’s exactly as it sounds: Ted was set up for failure. Joined by a cast of imperfect but relatable personalities, Ted somehow always comes out of each episode with a positive outlook while teaching us all a valuable life lesson—even when all odds are against him. 

Ted starts out as an underrated leader. Putting aside his zero-knowledge of the popular sport he is about to coach, his lack of ego and optimism sets him apart from the typical characterization of any leader (especially a winning coach). However, he navigates through egos, drama, doubt and more to create an unbelievable culture within his team. (Ah, there’s the connection to our world.) 

When watching the show, the idea was to relax—not to think about work! But, after only a few episodes, it became clear that Ted Lasso is the man we’ve all wanted as a co-worker or team leader.

Here are some tips, from Coach himself, on how to create a successful—and not all about winning—team:

“For me, success is not about the wins and losses. It is about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves—on and off the field.”

Ted always has his team’s best interest in mind. Each person matters. He sees skills and desire in his players that others may have missed. A good team leader will inspire others to grow and explore their talents, leading to natural, personal success that benefits the whole team. Your team should always be growing and learning in their career, even if they take a few L’s.

(And hey, identify your “Nate.” Lasso learned the name of his “kit man,” or equipment manager, first. You never know where the best ideas can come from!)

“I think that you might be so sure that you’re one-in-a-million, that sometimes you forget that out there, you’re just one-in-11.”

A team sport can’t be won with one player, and the same goes for working with a marketing team. Each “player” was hired for their expertise, so utilize them for a winning outcome. Create an environment where each player can elevate their skills and the team trusts and supports one another.

Strong teams learn and win together. No one is bigger than the team.

“He’s a wigwam in a teepee.” “What’s that?” “He’s two tents.”

Be vulnerable and don’t take yourself too seriously. Admit your own mistakes to your team, allowing them to realize it’s more important to do things right than to just always be right. (Don’t be “Led Tasso”).

“There’s two buttons I never like to hit: That’s ‘panic’ and ‘snooze.’”

Be the balance. A team can only operate properly when everyone is supporting one another.

“You know what the happiest animal on Earth is? It’s a goldfish. You know why? Got a 10-second memory. Be a goldfish.”

Don’t let the team beat themselves up because either a campaign didn’t go the way they wanted it to, or a great pitch didn’t sign that dream client. Not everything is going to go perfectly in any part of life. Shake it off and move on to the next one.

“Believe.”

Lasso does not hide his optimism—and it becomes infectious! As the team leader, Ted’s can-do attitude has a ripple effect down to the rest of the team (even tough-to-crack Roy Kent). Teach your team to believe in themselves, their teammates, and their work. Maybe we all need to add that yellow “Believe” sign to our desks…

So, leaders, your takeaways: Don’t be two tents. Be a goldfish. Believe in your team.

Thanks, Ted.

 

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