WWTLD: What Would Ted Lasso Do?
It was a Friday evening, and my husband had had a particularly difficult work week. He was salty, to say the least, and after hearing an irreverent interview with Brendan Hunt, writer and co-creator of “Ted Lasso,” I suggested the 35-minute comedy may be something to pull him out of his doldrums.
I like being right as much as the next person, but in this instance — if it’s even possible — I was the most right I’ve been in a very, very long time. And I didn’t know how more right I would become as we continued to watch season 1 (and then season 2) of the Emmy-nominated Apple TV+ show.
“Ted Lasso” is the story of a Kentucky college football coach of the same name and his assistant, Coach Beard, who move to England to coach a fledging professional soccer team without any previous experience (Ted, like me, didn’t even know what a “pitch” was).
But this isn’t a sports story. Or a relationship story. Or a “Stand and Deliver,” overcome-obstacles-in-order-to-succeed story. It’s not “Miracle” or even “The Mighty Ducks.” It’s more than that.
As co-worker Celestia Ward put it, “Ted Lasso is pure joy.” She echoed the sentiment of Galit Feinreich, author of “What ‘Ted Lasso’ can teach you about leadership” for Fortune, who said, “If you haven’t seen it, I presume it’s either because you don’t have Apple TV+ (excuses!) or you dislike joy.”
Ted’s overall positive and forgiving manner, in addition to how he wins over a crew of burly, gruff, unruly international athletes (not to mention the team’s fans and press) was “I want to be like Ted” worthy. As someone who has worked in youth leadership for a decade or two, Ted made me want to be …. better. Ted gives second chances, looks for the underlying meaning, works to understand people, pays attention to those around him and genuinely cares, all without coming across like an animated Disney character.
Looking back, it’s a given our soccer-loving co-workers Bobby Long and Alex Raffi would like the show (they know what a “pitch” is, and apparently, according to them, the show is very sport accurate!), but after a chat on one of the rare days we all saw each other, we realized there was more to it. Lessons are shown, not told, all without coming across as preachy or formulaic. It’s in how people treat one another, develop the work environment they can thrive in and create a community. In a time where arguments across aisles — both in government and grocery stores — have pervaded the country, Ted Lasso’s way of doing things seems new, even though it’s not.
For this, I asked Alex, Bobby and Celestia to each put together the top five lessons — or reinforced sentiments — they learned from watching “Ted Lasso.” When Alex went to answer this, he realized many things in the series are reinforced in “Creative Courage,” the workshop series and book he created to encourage creativity in the workplace. See? Seems new, but it’s not.
1. Trust people to solve problems; don’t micro manage.
2. Don’t be afraid to treat your team like family.
3. Positive reinforcement is a powerful way to motivate success.
4. Handle problems right away, as they come, to avoid poison setting in.
5. Kindness is contagious and reciprocated in a team environment.
1. Being positive is almost always the way to go. Motivate and lift up your friends, teammates and co-workers. Don’t put them down.
2. Everyone is facing their own battles with mental health, even the people you least expect. And that’s OK.
3. Culture and respect are probably the two most important things in a workplace environment.
4. People deserve second chances.
5. Communication is key. Talk to your spouse. Talk to your boss. Talk to your co-workers. Talk to your friends.
1. Celebrate birthdays, anniversaries and special occasions on the team. Even when you lose the game, eat the cake.
2. Listen. Everyone has a story, and once you learn it, it could unlock the secret of connecting with them.
3. Don’t only surround yourself with people smarter than you, enlist the intelligence of those working in all aspects of the organization, from bottom to top.
4. Being a nice person doesn’t make you weak or a bad leader.
5. When you’re wrong, apologize. Do it honestly, humbly and without hesitation.
1. Cookies, used correctly, can smooth over a lot of situations.
2. Teams exist on all levels, up and down and laterally.
3. A positive attitude can help raise up everyone, but it can’t be the only thing you bring to the table.
4. Even a complete jerk can have something to contribute, if they are managed well.
5. Playing is a necessary part of working.
What have you learned by watching Ted Lasso? Does it apply to your personal life, career or both? Let us know!
Tiffannie Bond is Imagine’s PR director and resident pop culture enthusiast. She also read a lot of “Entertainment Weekly” growing up.