Seven Leadership Lessons from Ted Lasso

July 22, 2021

We’re only one day away from the second season of AppleTV’s hit series, Ted Lasso. I am a huge fan of this heartwarming and hilarious show. If you haven’t seen it—you must—but I’ll give you a quick synopsis: 

An American football coach named Ted Lasso is hired to coach a European football team, aka soccer. Ted has no (I mean NO) soccer experience, but he has experience coaching a winning team. It’s a comedy, so you can expect lots of jokes about the American in England and some twists and turns along the way.

The comedic storytelling is fantastic, but I really love the show for Ted’s ability to lead his team through every challenge—on and off the field. I think we can all learn a thing or two from Ted. So, here are my favorite leadership takeaways from Season 1.

Optimism is Infectious

“I believe in hope. I believe in believe.”

Keep a positive mental attitude.​ Ted Lasso is the eternal optimist. His almost over-the-top enthusiasm is a little odd to the team at first, but despite their initial resistance, they inevitably develop a soft spot for him. Lasso’s “can-do” attitude creates a ripple effect that raises positivity for everyone.

Be a Goldfish

“You know what the happiest animal  in the world is? It’s a  goldfish. It’s got  a 10-second memory. Be a  goldfish!”​

We all make mistakes, have a bad day, or fall short of a goal. Instead of giving up, you must keep practicing and learning to improve yourself. The next time you need to shake it off and get back to optimal performance…be a goldfish.

Teamwork

“When it comes to locker rooms, I  like ‘em just like my mother’s  bathing suits, I only  wanna  see ‘em in one piece.”

Teamwork is the key to team success. ​Ted doesn’t know much about the game of soccer, which is part of what makes the show so funny. What he does know is how to coach a winning team.

Ted is confident he can coach any team in any sport and he executes by surrounding himself with a team of experts to help where he is not strong. He makes room for the experts to do what they do best and focuses on his strengths of setting a vision, increasing the team’s confidence, making tough decisions, building relationships, and recruiting and developing talent. Great leaders have a team of leaders around them to achieve greatness together.

Take Genuine Interest

“We can’t really be good partners unless we get to know each other, right?”

Coach Lasso is genuinely interested in every person on the team. He leads with a smile and does thoughtful gestures to boost morale and form real friendships. To connect with his new boss, Ted brings biscuits every morning because he knows it reminds her of childhood. To cheer up a homesick player celebrating his birthday, Ted brings a popular candy from his home country of Nigeria.

He cares about the well-being of each player, which lifts the entire team.  When you get to know people, you’re more empathic and can better understand their experiences. You relate to them and they relate to you. Great leaders take a genuine interest in their team.​

Mentorship

“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.”​

Leave people better than you found them. Team members do not stay with you forever, projects can be short-term or long-term, so be strategic regarding the impact you have on each of them. Ask yourself, “how is this person better because they were a part of my team? How did I improve their technical skills, team skills, professional skills, or all of the above?” Ted Lasso used a variety of strategies to break through to his team: books, fake exorcisms, food, and birthday celebrations.​

Empowerment  Breeds  Confidence​

A follow-up to the previous point. The most obvious example of this is once again the way Coach Lasso empowers his kit man, Nate, to perform tasks beyond his role. He also encourages each player to give their input on game tactics, which creates a sense of ownership, leading to more engagement and team motivation.

Appreciation

“That is a darn fine sports mix young fella.”

Tell people you appreciate them….and mean it!​ This is one of Coach Lasso’s signature moves. He constantly tells everyone how much he appreciates them, not just people on his team or those close to him. He says it so much, that after binging the entire first season of the show, you will catch yourself saying it without realizing it.

People need to hear how you appreciate them, and they need to hear it often. It’s not enough to say it, you must mean it. This is a powerful tool because he really does appreciate everyone, even the ones who ridicule, lack respect, and try to destroy him. Great leaders let team members know how much they appreciate them. 


If you’re not convinced that you can learn leadership lessons from Ted, I encourage you to check out this show and see for yourself. Maybe even watch a few episodes as a team assignment so you all can learn from Ted. I’d love to hear if you feel the same, send me a message or post a comment below!

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Kris Blake

Agile Coach
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.