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A perspective by Kelly Xiao, Asia Pacific Employment Director Counsel II at Syneos Health, based in Sydney, Australia. 

Warning: spoiler alert!

Ted Lasso is a show about a football (soccer) coach. Yawn! When my friend recommended this show to me, I put off watching it because I’m not the sportiest person, but I was furious with myself for not jumping on the Ted Lasso bandwagon sooner. What a wholesome show full of heart, humanity, compassion and decency. As a big fan, I want to share with you what Ted has taught me about leadership. 

Ted is an ethical leader 

An ethical leader carries oneself with integrity and honesty at all times, but also role models this behaviour proactively and expects others to be accountable for unethical actions. When Jamie Tartt, a talented yet immature player, taunts other team members and wants to skip practice, Ted delivers a stern and direct speech to Jamie in front the team. Ted tells Jamie he is supposed to lead by example and yet he’s shoving that all aside. By delivering this speech, Ted is also holding Jamie accountable for his past unethical behavior. Be accountable, be a team player, be ethical. 

Ted is an emotionally-intelligent and authentic leader 

As the self-labeled optimist, Ted is compassionate, empathetic and an authentic leader who inspires hope and optimism. A famous Lassoism: Ted tells us to “be curious, not judgmental.” As Ted makes a bet with Rupert over a game of darts, Ted shares his lesson that all those people who used to belittle him judged everything and not one of them was curious, and their underestimation of him had nothing to do with who he was. In order to understand others better, inspire hope, let us learn from Ted to ask questions, listen and keep learning. 

Ted is a brave leader 

Brave leaders are able to convert adversity into strength, leading teams through unforeseen uncertainty and change. Ted is brave enough to tell the team that they were broken and they needed change. Ted rightly said change can be scary, most times change is a good thing and embracing change is about being brave. Belief in the team can lead to positive outcomes. 

Ted is human 

Despite all the amazing qualities and skills that Ted has, the thing that I love the most is that Ted is human. Not a superhero, not a caricature of perfection, but a human being with panic attacks, flaws and fears. Gone are the yesteryears’ expectations of a leader being infallible, perfect, know-it-all, always under control. As unconventional as Ted may be, Ted is a true leader for today and tomorrow. A leader who is cognizant and open about their emotions and vulnerabilities, who listens and cares, who embraces uncertainty, admits their mistakes, inspires us all to be a decent human at work and outside of work. 

If you’ve enjoyed watching Ted Lasso as well, what are some of the leadership lessons you’ve learned and how are you applying them? Leave a comment so we can continue the conversation.

Ted Lasso airs on the Apple TV+ streaming service. Please check local availability at