What Can Engineers Learn from Soccer? Leadership Lessons from Ted Lasso
Anyone who has watched Ted Lasso knows he loves metaphors. His ability to speak and teach creatively is part of what makes him such a great leader. He might be a soccer coach, but he loves using big life lessons to teach AFC Richmond how to be a better team. Ted’s lessons apply not only to sports, but to life in general. They also hold true in a professional setting.
Dialectic prides itself in carrying out the beliefs behind the following quotes from Ted Lasso himself:
1. “Be a goldfish.” [Season 1, Episode 2, 10]
Goldfish are supposedly the happiest animals in the world because they only have a 10-second memory. Ted often reminds his team of this, especially when they make mistakes. He sets a fitting example of how leaders should handle failure — with patience and optimism.
Leaders should see “failures” as an opportunity to learn and improve for the future. Having an open mind will lead to more creativity, innovation and growth.
2. “I shouldn’t bring an umbrella to a brainstorm.” [Season 2, Episode 1]
Creativity is a large part of what makes Ted’s leadership style so effective. Ted uses this metaphor to teach his coaching staff to be open to all ideas when strategizing. Even though he is only looking for one solution, he chooses to create a space where all ideas are valued and heard — because he knows the best solution might be completely unexpected.
It’s important for leaders to embrace change, harbor creativity and encourage innovation. Standing in the rain without an umbrella can sometimes generate unwanted results, but in a creative space, it’s necessary to hear the opinions of others.
3. “I value your opinions, even when you’re wrong.” [Season 1, Episode 8]
Ted is a great listener and critical thinker. He gives his players and fellow coaches a platform to speak their minds, even if he doesn’t agree with them. In his mind he doesn’t just coach players, he leads and values people. We see Ted showing humility all throughout the show when dealing with egos; at the end of the first season, he teaches a major lesson: “Be curious, not judgmental.”
Leaders must respect and treat their team with honesty, and the team must return it. It’s important to understand the role that everyone plays in your business and be willing to listen to their suggestions, even if you have a different vision for the future of your firm.
4. “Turn ‘me’ into ‘us.’” [Season 1, Episode 2]
In season 1, Ted is speaking with his most talented player, Jamie Tartt, about the importance of the team. His message is that although Jamie may be an incredibly talented athlete, he must be a team player and work hard. He phrases this to Jamie by saying, “I think that you might be so sure that you’re one in a million, that sometimes you forget that out there you’re just one in 11.”
The takeaway here is that sometimes we must stop thinking about personal successes to focus on making progress as a team, while also encouraging the same from our teammates. It’s essential for leaders to embody this philosophy because a selfless leader will inspire the same out of employees and create a team-oriented and successful culture.
5. “Believe in hope.” [Season 1, Episode 10]
Hope is the starting point of success. As we see from Ted’s famous “BELIEVE” locker room sign, he is a big believer in, well… believing. Even when all the chips are down and there is nothing Ted can do, he still has the belief that his team will make the right decisions and remember what he taught them. Ted is often told “It’s the hope that kills you” by people in his circle, but Ted remains confident in his team.
Leaders can create a culture and work environment of mutual trust and hands-on guidance with the right tactics. Believing in your team sets ambitious standards and encourages them to do their best work. A leader must trust their team to do magnificent work, even when they can’t be there to see it.
Dialectic is looking for aspiring leaders who believe in the value and possibilities of teamwork, just like Coach Lasso. Stay tuned to our social platforms to learn more about our internship program and why Dialectic is the place to start your engineering career.