“Howdy, Folks!”: Executive insights from Coach Ted Lasso

The pivotal press conference in Season 3, Episode 1 of Ted Lasso was a PR masterclass in addressing and flipping a negative and potentially damaging situation.

SPOILER ALERT: Nate Shelley, former assistant coach of Ted Lasso’s Richmond team and now angry and vengeful head coach of rival West Ham United, gave a scathing press conference full of nasty comments toward Ted, Richmond owner Rebecca Walton and the entire team. In turn, Ted responds with a tone-changing press conference: Instead of countering Nate’s jabs and being defensive, he calls Nate ‘a great coach,’ wishes him well and turns the entire session into a positive interactive experience with the journalists. In the end, Ted wins the day by taking the high road and generating forward-looking interest and excitement about his beloved Richmond team’s upcoming season.

Ted’s not-going-to-swim-in-a-dirty-pool style provides helpful tips to all leaders on taking control of a difficult conversation by pivoting and ultimately enhancing your brand:

“Be a goldfish. The happiest animal on Earth is a goldfish. It only has a 10-sec. memory.” This might be the best advice Ted Lasso gives us. Have a short memory and move on!
“Ignore the poopy.” Don’t let the negative stuff others say or do get you down.
Represent Richmond and lead them to victory – on the field and in the public eye. Keep your eye on the ball (or English football, in this case!). Focus on your overall goal and don’t be distracted. Focus on the long game.
It’s OK to use self-deprecating humor to diffuse the situation. Don’t take yourself too seriously and have some fun (a skill in which Ted excels).
Optimism isn’t the same as toxic positivity. Stay optimistic at all times but make sure you have a grip on the realities at hand so you can make impactful and grounded decisions.
• Empathy is a super power. Everyone has a story about why they behave the way they do. Strive to understand others’ motivations.

Effective leaders also understand the importance of keeping their team strong and united during trying circumstances. Coach Ted makes sure that his “Believe!” banner is always visible to his players in his locker room. When all else fails, he encourages everyone around him to believe in themselves, in their goals and in their capacity. As in so many episodes of Ted Lasso, there’s a tangible team mantra of “one for all and all for one” and the importance of everyone pulling together in the same direction.

Business leaders have long looked to sports methodologies for management tips. So, thanks, Coach Ted, for the reminder. Now, if we could only get his cookie recipe.

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