The wisdom of Ted Lasso


Ben Welsh

Ben Welsh, now former Creative Director, DDB Australia, on Ted Lasso’s wisdom.

At the start of this brilliant series, I began to realize that this was an important lesson in leadership as well as brilliant comedy.

A quick trawl on the internet and I discovered that I am not alone. But it’s interesting to see what lessons people see in it.

For me, it was all about vulnerability.

Ted is not your traditional Alpha sociopath. He’s a damaged human being (not that traditional Alpha sociopaths don’t get damaged much). The difference here is that Ted knows it and uses his vulnerability to get the best out of his team.

He knows he doesn’t know anything about football – so he’s open to the water boy’s advice.

He knows that each player has a different vulnerability and only by taking on this demon can they be at their best.

He knows when to forgive his most talented player.

He knows that a loss is as important a lesson as a victory, up to a point.

And he knows the importance of good water pressure – something no native Briton understands until they’ve lived in a country that discovered this elixir.

His vulnerability leads to empathy.

Empathy, care.

And that reinforces inclusiveness.

Businesses say ‘people are our most important asset’, and we applaud our ‘team’, but how true is that?

A few years ago, I asked Rob Limb, who runs DDB Group TRACK in New Zealand, why his company had the highest employee score in the DDB world. If I remember correctly, he said, “Well, we give people a lot of free food… and we talk to them a lot. “

The point is, care and communication create community. A real team.

And that concern cannot be just to say that we care, we have to show it.

Likewise, communication should be honest and open. If things are bullshit, people should know about it. And if you’re doing well, don’t make it a secret lest your team suddenly ask for a raise – if you’re doing well, it’s because of them!

The show seems to avoid this sensitive topic of money – the players all drive expensive cars and the owner seems to have a lot of money, but there is an episode that touches on one of my favorite quotes from Bernbach, ” A principle is not a principle until it costs you money ”when the team loses its main sponsor for a matter of principle.

The sentence that struck me the most came from Colin, the team’s Welsh player: “I’m a strong and capable man, not a shit.

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