11 December2020

Five Ways Ted Lasso Personifies Leadership

Five to Flow Sits Down with Jason English, SVP and Global Salesforce Practice Lead at Publicis Sapient.

by AJ Bellarosa

Ted Lasso​ inspires me in so many ways, and I never imagined this show would have such a lasting impression on me. I wasn’t sure what to expect when I began watching it, but a few minutes in I knew I was going to binge watch the entire season. In fact, it was so good that I began taking notes because I found the story line so instructive and relevant given everything that is happening in the world right now. If you haven’t watched the show, I highly recommend it.

Jason English, SVP and Global Salesforce Practice Lead at Publicis Sapient,​ sat down with the Five To Flow leadership team as a servant leader to share a few tips and tricks on virtual workshop facilitation using Mural.​ The topic of our workshop was “Lessons in Leadership from Ted Lasso”. Afterwards, I sat down with Jason to talk to him about why Ted Lasso is so inspirational, and how his demeanor and approach to leadership is a master class for anyone who runs a business or leads a team.

AJ: Jason, thank you so much for taking the time to meet with our team and share some lessons in leadership. You focused on three takeaways from Season 1 of Ted Lasso that apply to our lives and to leadership in your LinkedIn post back in October.​ At the end of that post, you mentioned you could go on, so here is your opportunity. What was it about this character that caught your attention after the first episode and what compelled you to "study" Ted?

Jason: To be honest, I was skeptical at first. I didn’t think it would last a full episode, let alone a full season. I’m a huge fan of Jason Sudeikis and I love sports, so I gave it a shot. Ten minutes into it, I realized it was going to be a different experience. How he engages with the people around him is something else. If you pay attention to the opening credits on each episode, Ted Lasso sits in the bleachers and all the seat colors change. ​ It’s a great metaphor for how Ted changes every room he enters. It’s just fascinating.

AJ: If you could pick any scene from the first season that you think everyone should watch to see how Ted Lasso personifies leadership, what would it be? What's the teaching moment from that scene for business leaders who are trying to achieve and sustain peak business performance?

Jason: There are so many to pick from! If I had to pick, it would be Episode 7, when Ted gives the pep talk in the locker room before his team’s match versus Everton, who they hadn’t defeated in 60 years. But the pep talk wasn’t given by Ted, it was given by the “kit guy,” or equipment manager. It is an incredible example of leadership without pumping his own chest out, and it gives someone an opportunity who shouldn’t be giving pre-game speeches. Ted shows humility, belief, and a unique sense of the moment. It’s a great example of trying to see ability in everyone, and after watching that scene you want to go out and play in the match. It was brilliant.

AJ: Do you think Ted Lasso is proof that leadership is less about your IQ and more about your attitude or EQ? Does Ted Lasso reinforce the idea that attitude equals aptitude?

Jason: Absolutely EQ is more important than IQ, and I think the brilliant example Ted shows is how to navigate the different personalities. He has a direct strategy for managing up to the club owner; it is very intentional and smart. But, he also understands that for him to be successful, he needs to influence the people that aren’t in positions of authority. Examples include the Team Captain, The Director of Football Operations, and the press. Ted understands who he needs to be engaged with in unique ways. He shows us that it’s not always about who’s at the top of the hierarchy.

AJ: Burnout is on the rise, people are working longer hours, experiencing higher levels of stress and we are facing unprecedented challenges in our work and personal lives during this global pandemic. How do you think "being a Ted Lasso" can help business leaders improve their work culture given all these drastic changes people are coping with?

Jason: We can use more Ted Lasso’s in our life because he is innately optimistic. In addition, he is genuinely interested in others. It’s not an obligatory act when he asks how someone is doing. He is authentic about it, and he is truly curious. We need more curiosity in this world and genuine interest. I mentioned the scene with the “kit guy” earlier. Throughout the season, Ted displays genuine interest in this person’s life: what his name is, his thoughts about the players, and you can tell it was shocking to the kit guy’s system because no one had cared about him before. This is brilliant leadership.

AJ: You mentioned during a recent meeting that you have watched the entire first season of Ted Lasso three times. What are five ways Ted Lasso personifies leadership?

Jason:

  1. Optimism:​ Being positive is infectious. He hangs a “believe” sign early on in the locker room.
  2. Intention: There’s a plan and strategy behind every relationship Ted has. And he’s not scheming. He understands the benefit of treating each person uniquely.
  3. Humility:​ No one is too small or unimportant for Ted. Ted takes time for everyone.
  4. Loyalty:​ Despite not receiving the most support from his boss, Ted demonstrates undying support to her, and it makes a difference in her over time.
  5. Be True to Yourself: Ted is completely clueless about the rules of Soccer or Football. It would be tempting to hide this and fake his way through it, but he doesn’t. He’s an American Football coach from the Midwest. That’s who he is and he’s proud of it. Successful leaders lead authentically.

What I appreciate more than anything about Ted is that he has an innate ability to disarm every person he comes into contact with. He puts people first, and he owns his selflessness with a badge of honor. Ted Lasso has inspired me to go below the surface and get to the heart of my own growth areas as a leader, and I am looking forward to Season 2! I’d like to thank Jason English for sharing his insights with us, and we are so grateful for the time and energy he put into his workshop.

For more insight on how Five to Flow can drive meaningful change for your business, check in with our collective by taking the Wellness Wave.​ You can also learn more about our People Solutions​ by visiting our website. We'd love to hear from you on how Ted Lasso inspires you. Share your comments with us!

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