The popular Apple TV show, now shooting its third season, is chock-full of leadership lessons. Here are some of the characters that
Brendan Hunt, Jason Sudeikis and Nick Mohammed in “Ted Lasso” season two. [Photo: Apple]
BY GWEN MORAN AND CARL PHILLIPS
Warning: The following piece has many major spoilers from seasons 1 and 2 of the Apple TV+ show Ted Lasso.
As the cast and crew of Ted Lasso are back in the U.K. filming the third season of the popular show, fans of the series—some call them “Ted-heads”—are left with only repeat streams of their favorite episodes and speculation about what happens next.
Here are six common leadership archetypes you’ll find:
TED LASSO: THE EARNEST HELPER
As head coach, Ted Lasso is the show’s most obvious leader. But the more we learn about Lasso, the more he morphs from underestimated caricature to a more complex character who forges ahead despite his own challenges. His commitment to treating others with dignity and respect and doing what he thinks is the right thing, even when no one is watching, transforms many of the people around him into better human beings.
Lasso is able to connect with others and inspire them to find the best in themselves. He helps Roy Kent (Brett Goldstein) find his inner coach. He helps Jamie Tartt (Phil Dunster) get past his bravado and become a better team player. He even helps his own boss, Rebecca Welton (Hannah Waddingham), find her way back from a vengeful path. And he does all of this while navigating his own heartbreak and mental illness. Lasso is the leader who holds onto his vision and hope, even when he’s facing the kinds of personal obstacles that could derail others.
COACH BEARD: THE POWER BEHIND THE SCENES
It takes a special kind of leader to operate in someone else’s shadow, but Coach Beard doesn’t seek the spotlight for himself. He’s happy to be part wingman, part consigliere to the marquee coach. At the same time, he’s earned his spot as a trusted advisor and the moral compass of the team. When Nathan “Nate” Shelley (Nick Mohammed) uses his power to treat one of the players unfairly, Beard ominously calls him out on the behavior.
But don’t mistake Beard for a pushover: When Lasso adopts a “winning isn’t everything” attitude, his assistant coach speaks truth to power, angrily explaining that professional teams on losing streaks may face dire consequences. When Tartt’s father becomes violent in the team’s locker room after a big loss, it’s Beard who not-so-gently escorts him out.
Beard’s quiet strength is also unwavering, despite a challenging romantic relationship and a few other demons. After that humiliating loss against Tartt’s former team, Manchester United, Beard spends a long night working out his frustration and his own self-defeating behavior.
REBECCA WELTON: THE REDEEMED, RESOLUTE CHANGEMAKER
When the series starts, team owner Rebecca Welton was single-minded in her purpose: destroy the Richmond Greyhounds—the entity her reviled ex-husband Rupert Mannion (Anthony Head) loves most—at all costs. In this, we see how committed and disciplined she can be in pursuit of her goals.
But, good leaders also realize when their efforts are being squandered on the wrong priorities. With the help of Lasso’s earnest work at being a good person—and a couple of effective prods from her righteous best friend and, unintentionally, her sadistic ex-husband—Welton begins to see the error of her ways. The scene in which she comes clean to Lasso is a how-to guide to effective apologies; a skill that many leaders fail to ever learn.
Her story is one of leadership and redemption. And her post-apology determination to do the right thing, even when it’s hard, is also exemplified when she ends an ill-advised relationship with team member Sam Obisanya (Toheeb Jimoh).
In a discussion with Keeley Jones (Juno Temple) and Shelley, Welton also reveals her own struggles with insecurity, especially when dealing with fellow football club owners. And her advice about and demonstration of “making yourself big” is a helpful exercise for any leader who has ever struggled with imposter syndrome.
SHARON FIELDSTONE: THE WISE COUNSELOR
There’s something both disquieting and comforting about team psychologist Sharon Fieldstone’s (Sarah Niles) manner, depending on the interactions with her. She’s comfortable with silence, which often spurs her counterparts to overshare, giving her information she needs to do her job. She’s a wise counselor, helping players like Dani Rojas (Cristo Fernández) and Colin Hughes (Billy Harris) overcome their personal obstacles and insecurities to perform at their best. At the same time, she’s still willing to go have a beer with the team after an important win.
Fieldstone has no issue owning her talent. At the same time, she grapples with her own fears and quirks. She tries to ghost her friends instead of saying a proper “goodbye” when she’s leaving. Her buttoned-up nature makes it difficult for her to be vulnerable. And a few hints indicate that she may have a complicated relationship with alcohol. She’s also an important force in removing the stigma from getting help—especially mental health help—when it’s needed.
ROY KENT: THE GROUCH WITH A HEART OF GOLD
Some leaders seem gruff and insensitive initially, but get to know them, and that’s not the case at all. Roy Kent’s unvarnished honesty may come across as harsh at first, but it’s usually rooted in others’ well-being. And Kent has a deeply nourishing side. He searches his posh neighborhood for a dentist (on Christmas Day, no less) who can address his beloved niece’s extreme halitosis. When team captain Isaac McAdoo (Kola Bokinni) goes through a rough patch, Kent takes him to his own childhood pitch to rediscover a love of the game. In the tense moments following a locker-room scene with Tartt’s abusive father, Kent comforts his on-again/off-again rival as others in the room hesitate to do so.
Kent is also an example of how to grow as a leader. Specifically, to borrow from the late poet Maya Angelou, “[W]hen you know better, do better.” The character’s moments of insight—when he realizes how he’s been misreading his relationship, for example, or that he really does want to be a coach after all—are usually punctuated with his signature expletive before he heads off to make things right. He shows leaders how to learn from their mistakes.
KEELEY JONES: THE EMERGING POWERHOUSE
Another leader who undergoes a dramatic shift from the beginning of the show through the end of the second season is famous-for-being-famous-to-PR-powerhouse Keeley Jones. The character’s progression is commensurate with her ability to believe in herself and embrace her worth. Her willingness to take on a stretch role with the Richmond club—and excel at it—leads to her getting an offer to fund her own public relations firm. And even when her new love Kent offers her the trip of a lifetime, which conflicts with her more immediate priorities, she remains focused on her goals.
Jones still has doubts, which she confesses to Kent prior to a photo shoot for a story celebrating her success, but she forges ahead in spite of being afraid. Jones also greatly values relationships. Her bond with Welton and other characters is strong, and she goes out of her way to get to know her clients’ and contacts’ needs, wants, and preferences so she can do her own job better. Such attention to detail is a big part of what makes her an effective leader.
Knowing your management style is an important asset that leads to understanding your strengths and weaknesses, and as we all know knowledge is power. With that said what do you know about your customers, especially relating to their perceived experience when interacting with your business. Not sure? We can help with several customer insight tools.