Beth Nilssen
April 19, 2022 / Great Advice

Leading Like Ted Lasso

Apple TV’s Ted Lasso, the folksy, infallibly oddball American football coach has a lot to learn—and teach—when he’s hired to coach a British soccer team. (And it’s more than just learning to call it “football.”)

Okay, folks, the votes are in for the most popular television show most likely to generate lists of “Leadership Lessons.” These lists invariably use recurring themes or statements recited by the lead characters as reference points. But before I get to that, let me remind you of a couple of leadership-lesson hits from previous posts here in the Great Clips Leadership blog: 

Game of Thrones: Gotta go with the classic “Winter is coming,” a cautionary warning to be prepared for the dark times that will inevitably arrive. Hindsight is 20/20, right? (Pardon—or cheer—the double entendre of having 20/20 vision for what hit us in the year 2020!)  Given the ongoing pandemic, Eddard Stark’s warning seems even more prophetic than when we first heard it.

Mister Rogers: The neighborly neighbor offers so many lessons in how to be a leader—and how to be. “Be kind. Ask questions. Listen with heart. Make choices. Embrace problems.” The be-sweatered host always found a way to pull lightness from the dark. 

So what’s a more recent top model for leading a team as expressed in things the characters say? Last year, People Magazine anointed one of my favorite shows to win the award for “Most Incredible Inspirational Quotes in a Series.” And the winner is…Ted Lasso! The show was nominated for 20 Emmys and won most of the big ones. Everyone from industry bigwigs to business school academics to ministers have praised the show.

If you haven’t seen the show or heard of it, the premise is that the owner of a British soccer team intentionally hires Ted Lasso, an American football coach who knows nothing about “football” on the other side of the pond, as the team coach. The owner wants the team to fail because it was her ex-husband’s favorite play thing. But because of Lasso’s uplifting leadership style—SPOILER ALERT—the team thrives.

Personally, I lean a little more in the direction of Game of Thrones so Ted Lasso’s folksy, infallibly oddball style wouldn’t seem to resonate with me. But, I love the show, and I gotta say, many of his “Lasso-isms” are a good fit for Great Clips franchised salons:

“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.” Lesson: Ted’s “Why” is to help his players be the best they can be. When Great Clips franchisees are asked what they attribute their success to, they invariably say one thing: “My employees.” When leaders help their employees succeed, their business benefits in ways that go beyond financial. 

“I want you to know, I value each of your opinions, even when you’re wrong.” Lesson: Ted doesn’t take any nonsense from an arrogant star player, and he listens as closely to the locker room attendant as he does to more “important” people around him. This makes everyone feel valued, increases team loyalty, and encourages diversity of ideas. When Ted benches the self-important star player, I thought of the adage I’ve heard from many successful Great Clips salon owners: “Hire slow. And when a employees turns out to be a bad apple, fire fast.” 

“If God wanted games to end in a tie, she wouldn’t have invented numbers.” Lesson: In soccer, one indication of success is the final score. In a business like a walk-in hair salon, metrics and data can often predict the final score. The most successful franchisors and franchisees in the salon industry keep track of things like customer counts and hours of operation because when they know the numbers, they can project the outcome.

There are dozens of listicles of leadership lessons drawn from Ted Lasso. Check out the links below. One last lesson from one of these articles: “Kindness matters more than you think.” Yes, indeed it does. Here’s an oldie but goodie from the Great Clips archives: Practice kindness this holiday season.

Five Leadership Lessons I Learned from Ted Lasso
By Michael J. Kruger, President and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary

5 times Ted Lasso reminded us what great leadership looks like
Apple TV’s Ted Lasso is like a cheat sheet for being a good leader.
By Gwen Moran, writer, editor and creator of Bloom Anywhere, a website for people who want to move up or move on.

Eight leadership lessons we can learn from Ted Lasso
By Catherine Ducharme, executive coach 

Ted Lasso: An Example of a Global Leader Who Wins Over People
By Sebastian Reiche, Professor of IESE Business School

Beth Nilssen 
Director of Franchise Development | Great Clips, Inc.
800-947-1143 | [email protected]

As Director of Franchisee Development for Great Clips, my job is to help prospective franchisees figure out if investing in a salon franchise is a good match. Right now, we’re working with dozens of prospective franchisees who are going through the initial steps of exploration. I’d love to hear from you, wherever you are on this journey. Give me a call!

Beth Nilssen By Beth Nilssen on April 19, 2022
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