Life and Leadership: What I Learned from Ted Lasso Season Two

November 30, 2021

Ted Lasso is more than the witty sports comedy-drama that it presents. It tugs on our heartstrings and illustrates deep lessons about individual interest and the collective good. In an earlier article, I highlighted Seven Leadership Lessons from the first season of Ted Lasso. This new season presents a new set of challenges for Ted and the team to overcome, giving us, the viewers, life, work, and leadership lessons we can empathize with and learn from.

Embrace vulnerability

“You must meet him halfway if you want him to open up.”

In a conversation with her therapist, Dr. Sharon reveals she’s annoyed that Ted won’t open up to her. She’s reminded, “you must meet him halfway if you want him to open up.” Building trust with your team is key and to do so you must model vulnerability yourself. After Dr. Sharon’s accident, she shares her fears with Ted. This act of vulnerability makes Ted feel more comfortable, and eventually, he begins to talk through more of his feelings and issues with her. 

When leaders create space and let others in, entire teams can move mountains—just look at Ted Lasso. Vulnerability is a hallmark of great leadership. It requires honesty, open communication, self-awareness, resilience, and the humility to know you’re not an expert at everything, nor must you be, to lead happy and successful teams.

Care for the people you work with

“Diamond Dogs, mount up!”

The Diamond Dogs often discuss personal issues and concerns, and it reminded me how important it is to have a trusted group of peers to bounce ideas off and seek advice from.

One common approach is to form a community of practice (CoP). A CoP is a group of people who share a common concern, a set of problems, or an interest in a topic who come together to fulfill both individual and group goals. This could be something as simple as a lunch with peers to discuss a topic that’s been on your mind, or it could be more structured like a formal monthly user group meetup.

Mentorship

“A good mentor hopes you move on. A great mentor knows you will.”

Throughout the season, Keeley has been growing more confident in her professional abilities with mentorship and support from both Rebecca and Higgins. At the end of the season, Keeley struggles to share her intention to leave AFC Richmond, worried that her friends will be upset with her. This is when Higgins shares one of my favorite lines from the season, “A good mentor hopes you move on. A great mentor knows you will.”

Establishing a mentorship program is good for everyone. Mentors get the opportunity to share experiences, both mistakes and successes, and help a peer grow their career. Mentees have a trusted peer to seek advice and learn new skills from, and work with to chart their path.

Trust the process

“It may not work out how you think it will, or how you hope it does. But believe me, it will all work out, exactly how it’s supposed to.”

Coach Lasso gives the team a pep talk, standard responsibility for all coaches, but instead of demanding more effort or a new strategy, he reminds the players of a little thing called fate.

This is arguably one of my favorite sentiments of all time, both in life and leadership. What I admire most is Ted’s ability to say the right thing at exactly the right time (why else would I write not one, but TWO articles on Ted-isms?).

Certain outcomes are unavoidable. There comes a time when more effort does not yield better results. When morale is declining, sometimes all it takes is a simple reminder to trust the process, no matter how the cookie crumbles. Being receptive to unfavorable outcomes is an opportunity to grow as a team or as a person. “You can’t win ‘em all” exists for a reason. Rather than beat yourself up or stay riddled with disappointment, use these moments to lean on your teammates or look inward and trust the process. You’ll gain knowledge and experience to tackle whatever comes next.

Find joy in work

“I brought you here to remind you that football is a game you used to play as a kid. Cause it was fun, even when you were getting your legs broken or your feelings hurt. So to heck with your feelings and your overthinking, go back out there and have some freaking fun.”

Isaac gets bumped to team captain after Roy retires but he hits a slump and has trouble leading the team. Ted consults Roy, who suggests bringing him to a community field to play with the neighborhood footballers just for fun. Getting back to your roots and remembering why you enjoy the work you do can be rejuvenating.

Practicing your craft outside of “work” and more for personal enjoyment helps you remember why you chose to pursue it in the first place. Consider the difference between designing icons for an app for your employer vs. creating a beautiful piece of art for your home.

With our craft at work, we must typically stay between guardrails, but lowering those guardrails and doing what you want, how you want, helps bring back the joy of the art. Circumstances matter and good old-fashioned playtime with our favorite activity can do wonders for the soul.

Our team feels strongly about finding joy in work, so we started hosting MakerSpace events at the office to have a place to explore our crafts, whatever they may be, beyond the day-to-day. If you have an idea and want to host a workshop or if there’s something you’d like to see in the future, you can add it to the backlog of ideas. Our recent Soldering Night featured an overview of soldering with demonstrations, tips and tricks to enhance any electronics project, and of course, with soldering irons and practice boards, our team got to roll up their sleeves and try it first-hand. This week’s Makerspace Event, Sit & Stitch Night, will surely be a hit.


Don’t overthink life or leadership

Being a leader is not a fixed position with explicit responsibilities. Leadership is a collection of behaviors and traits that cultivate hope and empower people by promoting individual interest and the collective good. Ted Lasso doesn’t overthink life or leadership. He had never coached soccer when the team leader recruited him hoping to destroy the organization and get back at her ex-husband. But he stepped up, approached the unknown with humility, trusted the process, and managed to find and spark joy within himself and the entire team.

Let's talk leadership Seven Leadership Lessons from Ted Lasso

Kris Blake

Agile Lead
Kris Blake has over 17 years of project leadership experience, with the last 12 focused on coaching product teams to achieve greater results. Kris is focused on taking care of people and teams and is strongly driven by agile principles.