After hearing about it everywhere, I finally watched the Apple TV+ show Ted Lasso, and I’m glad I did. The show has some great leadership lessons from Lasso, a former college football coach who gets tapped to coach an English soccer team, despite having very little knowledge of soccer.
Since our cover story this month is our Leadership Awards, what better time to write about some of the lessons I noticed from the show.
Names matter.When first arriving in England, a team employee walked with Lasso to meet the team’s owner, and Lasso asked the employee what his name is. Surprised, the employee answered, “No one ever asks my name.” That employee, Nathan, becomes one of Lasso’s biggest believers.
Don’t dwell on mistakes.
After a player made a mistake, Lasso asked him if he knew what the happiest animal on Earth was. The answer? A goldfish, because they have a 10-second memory. Yes, you need to learn from mistakes, but you also need to move on from them in order to succeed.
Act of feedback.The idea of a suggestion box never seemed like something that would work to me. But Lasso had one in the locker room. While most players filled it with insults, one person noted the water pressure is bad. Soon thereafter, the shower was like water out of a firehose, which the team captain appreciated.
Be a team player.Lasso’s team has a very good player on it, Jamie Tartt, who is a primadonna – actually he’s just flat out rude. Lasso eventually pulls him aside and tells Jamie that while he thinks he’s 1 in a million, he forgets he’s just 1 of 11 players on the field. Even as the leader, you need to remember you are still part of the group.
Your actions matter.Lasso was invited to someone’s Indian restaurant in passing and shows up, surprising the person. He took it one step further and ordered what the chef recommended. The food is extremely spicy, but Lasso ate it up because it would be insulting if he didn’t. Think about if you acted on something an employee suggested in passing. It might be a small gesture for you, but mean the world to them.
If you are looking for a show to watch and learn from, I highly recommend Ted Lasso. You don’t even have to like soccer.
— Brian Horn