This post was last updated Feb. 1, 2023.
If you, like millions of people, fell in love with the endearing and uplifting charm and warmth of Jason Sudeikis’ character Ted Lasso in the Apple TV hit comedy, Ted Lasso, you’ll know that so much of what made him successful despite all odds in almost impossible situations was the heart that he brought as a coach and a leader.
The show is a creative collaboration of both wit and wisdom that carries with it extraordinary lessons in leadership that we can all learn from.
10 Ted Lasso leadership gems
1. Create a strong community
Strong teams learn and win together. It’s the people that matter, not the winning or losing, or as Ted himself said:
“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.”
I often tell agents who fear prospecting not to look at their calls as win/lose scenarios. In other words, if they get the appointment, they win; if they don’t, they lose.
It’s not about the “get” – it’s about the give. It’s about building rapport and powerful relationships with other human beings. That’s hard to do when there’s a barrier of expectations, not always in your control between you and the other person. There’s an old (and maybe corny) but still true expression that the word TEAM stands for Together Each Accomplishes More. Create a community of human beings that care about one another – that work well together – and the wins will work themselves out.
2. Use a ritual to create camaraderie and cement bonds
Great teams have a foundation of trust plus accountability. That doesn’t happen by accident. You have to create rituals, safe spaces, and opportunities that bring people together, forge friendships, and fuel trust. For example, in season one, Ted holds a “ceremony” where all the team members come together to perform a ritual based on an item that means a great deal to them.
It’s a pivotal moment that helps the players see they are more alike than they are different and helps them come together in a whole new way. You can do the same. Perhaps not with a bonfire in a locker room, but certainly with team-building company events, open-door management policies where people know they can be seen and heard, putting mentors and proteges together, and above all else – cultivating communication and a sense of caring.
“I think that if you care about someone and you got a little love in your heart, there ain’t nothing you can’t get through together.”
3. Foster an attitude of gratitude
One of the things I really love about Ted is that he never fails to say, “I appreciate you.” While this small, but significant sentiment surprised people when he first showed up as a coach, it became an integral part of what brings his team and the organization together. Appreciation fuels appreciation. Gratitude unlocks more things to be grateful for. Show up every day with an overwhelming sense of gratitude, model it, and show appreciation. You’ll not only inspire others to do the same, but you’ll also generate “championship” results in your life and business.
4. Believe so much in others’ potential that they believe in themselves
One of the things Ted does when he gets to the A.F.C. Richmond locker room is tape a big, yellow believe sign over the door. It was a tenant of his coaching philosophy and at the core of the faith, he had not just in the team but in the people that made up the team.
He knew that if he could help team members feel good about themselves, collaborate as a team, and truly care about one another, he could help them unlock not only their potential and confidence but that of every member of the team. Love this famous line:
“So I’ve been hearing this phrase y’all got over here that I ain’t too crazy about. ‘It’s the hope that kills you.’ Y’all know that? I disagree, you know? I think it’s the lack of hope that comes and gets you. See, I believe in hope. I believe in belief.”
Be the kind of leader that can help others let go of limiting mindsets and beliefs and let in their true potential.
5. Own your mistakes, and don’t take yourself too seriously
There’s no doubt that Ted makes a LOT of mistakes, especially in the beginning. He’s got no idea about the game of “football,” and he’s the first to admit his failings and apologize (in his very Ted-like way). He wisely teaches his team, both through words and actions, to worry less about the mistakes made and more about the lessons and the opportunities for choice they provide.
“I can’t be wasting time wishing for a do-over on all that. ‘Cause, that ain’t how choices work… every choice is a chance.”
6. Don’t be afraid of challenges or getting uncomfortable
Challenges are more often than not the catalysts we need to create positive change, get out of comfort zones, and take our lives and businesses to the next level.
“Taking on a challenge is a lot like riding a horse. If you’re comfortable while you’re doing it, you’re probably doing it wrong.”
If you are too “comfortable” in your saddle, it might be time to shake things up and change your skills, mindset, or both to get the best results possible.
7. Embrace curiosity
One of my favorite lines from the show is:
“Guys have underestimated me my entire life. And for years, I never understood why. It used to really bother me. But then, one day, I was driving my little boy to school, and I saw this quote by Walt Whitman, and it was painted on the wall there. It said, ‘Be curious, not judgmental.’ I like that.”
There’s power in curiosity. In being open to new ideas, new mindsets, new skills, and new ways of approaching problems and finding solutions. There’s also a lesson in there about not underestimating yourself just because others may do so. Don’t get stuck in the rut of always doing things the way things have always been. Embrace your curious side, question the status quo, and believe in your potential.
8. Details matter
One of the first things Ted’s new players and staff at A.F.C. Richmond learned is that he remembers and uses people’s names. Not just the bosses and the superstars – everyone. Everyone is part of the team. Everyone has hopes and goals and things that matter to them, and Ted takes time right from the start to find out what those are and help people see and feel their significance. Is it more work to take the extra steps and put in the extra work to know the details that make a difference to your team? Absolutely, but as Ted would tell you:
“Doing the right thing is never the wrong thing.”
9. Be a goldfish
One of the most quintessential Ted lines in the show was this:
“You know what the happiest animal on Earth is? It’s a goldfish. Y’know why? It’s got a 10-second memory. Be a goldfish.”
What he means by this is that there is so much value in letting go of things you can’t change, mistakes, or missteps so that you can move forward faster. Don’t dwell on anything because nothing lasts, not the good or the bad. Take it all in stride and keep going and keep learning.
10. Find the good
Early in the show, we’re shown Ted’s penchant for optimism and finding the good in everything when he first visits the locker room at Richmond. He demonstrates both his fondness for athletics and his ability to see possible positive outcomes with this memorial quote:
“I do love a locker room. It smells like potential.”
This small bit of positivity manages to capture Ted and his outlook so well. Sometimes when things don’t look so good (or smell so good) perhaps it’s just an opportunity to achieve something great.
Lastly, I want to help you embrace Ted’s mantra, “You say impossible, but all I hear is ‘I’m possible.’“ Because you are possible. You are essential. The world needs more of what you have to bring to the table. Your team needs inspiration to tackle change and challenge more than they probably ever have.
Lead with kindness. Elevate your team’s experiences with empathy — and believe. Oh, and you’ll maybe want to catch up on Seasons 1 and 2 of Ted Lasso because I think Season 3 is right around the corner, and I, for one, am here for it. I’d love to hear your favorite Lasso-isms and lessons in the comments below.
Darryl Davis is a speaker, coach, and the bestselling author of How to Become a Power Agent in Real Estate, as well as the CEO of Darryl Davis Seminars. He currently hosts weekly free webinars to help agents navigate market change and design careers worth smiling about. Learn more at his website or connect with him on Facebook or YouTube.