If you haven’t noticed, there has been a ton of buzz about the Emmy-winning show, Ted Lasso…It’s what everyone is talking about!
In summary, this crowd-favorite series, streaming on Apple+, is about Ted Lasso (played by Kansas City native, Jason Sudeikis) is a D-2 Collegiate Football Coach from Kansas City who is recruited to be the Head Coach of the struggling English Premiership soccer club AFC Richmond, in London.
While this is definitely a feel-good show that offers a great storyline with its fantastic writing and acting, the show, from our point of view, offers a little bit more than simply an enjoyable viewing experience. It offers practical leadership and life lessons. And these lessons can be easily applied to our career-life in particular, and the way we interact with our colleagues and with those who report to us or simply look to us for guidance.
So, we’ve listed out some practical leadership lessons we observed and learned from this dynamic series...Take notes!
“Don’t you dare settle for fine.” - Roy Kent
It is basically impossible for us to achieve our desires and goals if we don't believe we are either capable or deserving of achieving them.
In the pilot episode, Lasso hangs a yellow sign over the door to the coaches’ office in the team’s locker room. The single word written on this sign? Believe. From that point on, the sign is a positive reminder to everyone in the locker room.
There is power in belief—Belief in yourself, but also belief in others, belief in your team, and in collective ideals and goals. By believing in oneself, it is much easier to have the confidence to achieve these goals, not to mention have the motivation to inspire and encourage those around you.
“I lost my way for a minute, but I’m on the road back.” - Rebecca Welton
A big part of showing vulnerability as a leader is admitting when you are wrong. In the series, Lasso admits his mistakes more than once, sending a clear message that it's more important to do the right thing than to be right.
And Lasso isn’t the only character in the series that owns up to their shortcomings. Welton, the club’s owner, hired Lasso, who had no experience coaching the game of soccer, setting him up to fail. She wanted the club to fail and as a result, hurt her ex-husband. Over the course of the series, she realizes how she has had a change in heart by working alongside Lasso. Welton eventually confesses her previous intentions to Lasso and apologizes. Their friendship and partnership is then, as a result, strengthened.
“I do love a locker room. It smells like potential.” - Ted Lasso
One example where we see this again and again throughout the series is in the way Lasso empowers his kit man, Nathan, to perform tasks beyond his expected role. He also encourages each player to give individual input on game tactics and plays. This then creates a sense of ownership, leading to more motivation, engagement, and comradery from the team as a whole. You will never know the true potential individuals hold if you do not empower them and give them the opportunity to shine.
And sometimes, empowering the underdogs also means sending the jokesters and ego-maniacs to the bench. For example, Jamie Tartt is Richmond AFC’s star striker. On the field, Tartt is a ball hog, refusing to pass to other players, even when they have a better shot. Not to mention, he is a bully to his teammates off the field as well. Because of this, Lasso decides to bench Tartt during the first half of one of the team’s most important games. But because of their coach’s encouragement, the team adapts and pulls off a win.
“Takin’ on a challenge is a lot like riding a horse. If you’re comfortable while you’re doing it, you’re probably doin’ it wrong.” - Ted Lasso
Embracing change is absolutely vital when it comes to leadership practices. With the right mindset, great leaders accept and encourage positive change, and are always looking for the opportunities they present. Not only this, but they are brave enough to move away from long-standing practices that have become widely accepted, but are not truly benefiting the team or organization as a whole.
In Lasso’s case, he left the comfort of his hometown and previous role to live in a foreign city in another country. Add to that coaching a sport you know nothing about at the professional level, and you’ve got enough change to make anyone anxious. The main plot and theme of the show is a glaring example of having the courage to make a change. Lasso is immersed in a culture and environment that is foreign to him, at first, he doesn’t even know basic soccer terms or lingo! But Lasso knows that nothing great happens within the comfort zone and he wastes no time sharing this lesson with his team.
"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." - Ted Lasso
Coaching a team of high performers will likely mean managing large egos, investing in those that need a little boost in confidence, and resolving personality conflicts. Coach Lasso tirelessly communicates the message that the team comes first, no matter your talent or superstar status. Winning is a team effort, after all, and each individual deserves the support of their teammates and leaders.
When you win together, you celebrate together—And when you’re faced with a loss, you learn together as well. It can be easy to forget that the best teams have humility. Humility is the driving force that allows each individual to continue growing, regardless of their level of skill. A top player without humility will quickly find themselves eventually being unsuccessful compared to those who realize they always have a lot to learn and grow in.
We hope that these leadership lessons have inspired and resonated with you! Needless to say, Ted Lasso had us laughing, crying, and inspired to be better leaders. And we are definitely looking forward to Season 3!