Apple TV+ generated a great deal of buzz last week with 4 major Emmy’s awarded to its new hit show, Ted Lasso. Whether you’re one of the many fans of the show or haven’t yet watched, Ted Lasso, played by Jason Sudeikis as a folksy, optimistic American football coach moving to the UK to manage a premier league soccer team, has more to say about leadership than one might think. Ted’s demeanor and approach to coaching contains great takeaways for what it means to be a good leader and be someone people can trust. His positivity and belief that everything will work out in the end has a tangible impact on his team – just as it could for yours.
Below, we share 4 of Ted’s leadership tactics every leader could benefit from:
Be curious, not judgmental
Ted had regularly been underestimated throughout his career, as many judged him by his bubbly, non-threatening demeanor. This again occurs as he faces off in a game of darts with a rude and pompous former owner of the team. When Ted beats this man in darts, he acknowledges that if he and the others who underestimated him in the past had been curious instead of judgmental, they may have asked him more questions and known what he was capable of. If the man had asked, rather than assumed, he would have learned that Ted played darts weekly with his father growing up before he passed away, and wouldn’t wager so much on the game.
It’s important to ask questions and avoid judging on impressions. Great leaders ask questions to find out how to best lead their teams. Earnestly asking people questions can help better understand their careers, their decisions, and help identify their strengths.
Bench the bad teammates
The star of the team, Jamie Tartt, is a bad teammate, refusing to pass the ball and routinely bullying his teammates. After plenty of chances to redeem himself, Ted benches Jamie during an important game. This was a risky move, but the players felt much more supported by this move, resulting in a win for the team.
Abrasive teammates, no matter how successful they are, can ruin team culture. When star performers start to bring down the team’s overall performance, "benching” them and addressing the problem head-on is worth it to help the team achieve long-term success.
Don’t overlook the easy wins
Ted is serious about making the team better, as every manager should be, so before he even started to coach the team, he asked players to add concerns about their locker room into a submission box. Finding opportunities for small changes that streamline the team’s processes or improve their environment is a seemingly simple, yet powerful way of building trust.
There are plenty of small adjustments leaders can implement that can help improve day-to-day processes for their people...they just have to ask. Some small changes may seem trivial but can eliminate obstacles, improve comfort, and help gain the team’s trust.
One of Ted’s regular moves was bringing cookies to his boss every Monday. While Ted’s boss initially finds this annoying, these regular touchpoints help her understand and grow to like Ted. Similarly, creating regular touchpoints and things to look forward to as a team can help build stronger relationships.
The rituals shared within a team help create structure and build camaraderie. They are a platform for bonding, as well as getting work done and achieving results. Leaders should create regular touchpoints with their direct reports and find ways to make regular meetings memorable, and not view them only as a way to get updates on projects, but to strengthen relationships and build trust with one another.
Investing in a strong team culture and building trust with employees is key to retaining talent and keeping staff engaged, and Ted Lasso shared some essential qualities strong leaders must have to do just that.
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