Are you a fan of Ted Lasso?
The eponymous hero of Apple TV’s hit series can teach us a lot about what it means to be a good leader. His cheerful humour, positive attitude and seemingly indefatigable optimism have turned him from fictional TV football coach to real life leadership role model!
Here are some of the leadership lessons that Ted Lasso has taught us.
Be a goldfish!
“You know what the happiest animal on Earth is? It’s a goldfish. It’s got a ten second memory.”
One of Coach Lasso’s most enduring pearls of wisdom is his advice to his players to ‘be a goldfish’. Why? According to Lasso, the goldfish is happy because it has such a short memory, it can’t dwell on mistakes.
We often have a tendency to focus on negative things. According to the National Science Foundation, most people experience around 5000 negative thoughts every single day! These could be anything from feelings of insecurity or worthlessness to anxiety and imposter syndrome. What a luxury it would be to be able to forget these negative thoughts, just like a goldfish!
The reality is that it’s not so easy to retrain our brains to think more positively – but the good news is that it can be done. It is possible to develop and nurture a peak performance mindset.
By identifying negative thoughts, you can challenge them more easily. Visualising your goals can help you get closer to achieving them. Focusing on the present moment can also help you to zone in on positive thoughts that will serve you.
You may not be able to control what happens, but you can control how you feel about it. So if something disappointing happens, be like a goldfish: just keep swimming forwards and forget anything that doesn’t serve you.
Another powerful quote from Ted Lasso is “be curious, not judgemental.”
In a famous darts scene, Ted talks about people underestimating him his whole life.
“All of a sudden it hits me […]. Not a single one of them were curious. You know, they thought they had everything all figured out and so they judged everything and they judged everyone. If they were curious, they would ask questions.”
Asking questions and being curious is an essential leadership skill. Being curious can help you to really understand another person’s thoughts, feelings, motives and drivers.
It can help to build empathy and trust. By being curious, you can ensure that people feel heard and understood, building those bonds.
Check out our podcast where Richard Newman talks to award-winning attorney Claudia Williams about how being a ‘curious leader’ can lead to much better business relationships.
Think differently about success
When Ted Lasso sits down for the first time with football journalist Trent Crimm, he is steadfast in his definition of success.
“For me, success is not about the wins and losses. It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the field.”
It’s clear that, for Ted, success is all about nurturing someone’s potential.
Being a good leader is like being a gardener. Although the gardener invests time to cultivate and nurture, it’s the plants and flowers who do the growing. The gardener creates the environment for the plants to thrive.
Ted Lasso’s interpretation of success is about building a strong team both individually and collectively. Whether they win or lose the game is not as important as how they all grow together.
Think about what success looks like for you and your team. If you could describe a successful employee or team member, what characteristics would they have? What would they achieve? How would they feel working with you? What can you do to make someone the best version of themselves?
You don’t have to have all of the answers
In the pilot episode of the series, we discover that Ted Lasso is not a typical football coach. In fact, he admits quite freely:
“Heck, you could fill two internets with what I don’t know about football”.
At first glance, it seems quite incredible that a sports coach could join a football club without knowing anything about the beautiful game. But Ted Lasso demonstrates that being a good leader does not necessarily mean knowing more than the people you’re leading.
A good leader is a mentor, helping their team to achieve their goals. You don’t have to have all of the answers yourself, but the right insight, support and wisdom can carry your team forward. As a mentor, you help your team to overcome their challenges.
Also, showing vulnerability can also help to increase trust. If you can show others that you are not perfect, you can deepen bonds through that honesty and improve your working relationships as a result.
This may also mean acknowledging mistakes when you make them and apologising where necessary. Ted gives us a great example of this when briefing the team:
“You know, fellas, we make a lot of choices in our lives every single day, ranging from “Am I really about to eat something called Greek Yoghurt?” to “Should I leave my family and move halfway around the world.” Me choosing not to be forthright with y’all? That was a bad choice.”
“I believe in hope. I believe in belief”.
Coach Lasso’s hand drawn sign above the coaching room door simply reads: believe. And that’s really Ted’s core ethos.
Positive, compassionate leadership can help you solve the greatest of challenges. Having belief in yourself, your company and your colleagues can go a long way to helping you achieve success.
Which leads us to one final piece of Ted wisdom:
“It may not work out how you think it will or how you hope it does. But believe me, it will all work out.”