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5 lessons we can all learn from Gareth Southgate’s success

Updated: Mar 3, 2022

It may not be coming home (this time) but blimey didn’t we do well? We’ve made great progress over recent years, and I reckon that’s down to the very charming Mr. Southgate.

I don’t like football and I don’t pretend to, but I do enjoy the England games during the big tournaments. I love the hope, the optimism, and the unity it brings to the country.

What I really enjoy is watching a transformation, after all I’m a coach and that’s my thing. The England team have been transformed under Gareth Southgate’s management, so I’ve taken a look at what and how he’s been doing this to see what lessons we can all learn.

Here’s my favourite 5:

1. Diversity

We know from multiple psychology studies that we love being surrounded by people who are just like us. But if we surround ourselves with people who think like us it’s easy to miss the obvious and our approach to solving problems is limited.

We have learned over the decades that if we want creativity, innovation, and success we need diversity in our teams, businesses and society. We need to draw on the skills and knowledge of a broad range of people not just mini clones of ourselves.

This is a strategy Gareth Southgate has embraced. He’s brought in a diverse group of experts and coaches ranging from Olympians, military commanders, tech entrepreneurs and performance psychologists.

So, think about who you surround yourself with. Are the peers, connections and experts you learn from diverse enough?

2. Empowerment Coaching

Gareth describes his coaching style as empowering; he focuses on the person before the footballer. Empowerment coaching sees the control shared between the leader and the team. Southgate explained;

“I like players to have responsibility; to think about what we are asking them to do, to have an opinion on the way we are asking them to play and the way we are asking them to train,”

By empowering the team and the individual there is a sense of freedom and choice, the two-way communication and the focus on self-development gives the players autonomy and a sense of belonging. If you get this stuff right the success will follow on the pitch and in our businesses.

Treat your business colleagues, employees and customers as individuals, we need different approaches for different people in order to get the best out them.

3. Courage

The courage to make bold decisions and follow your plan through is something Gareth Southgate is known for doing. This often means making decisions that others don’t agree with. The ability to stay focused on your plan when everyone else is doubting you, judging you or telling you to do something different.

We need courage in business. It’s how we move forward, innovate and grow.

4. Focus

I talk a lot about the plan you need to implement to reach the outcome or goal. Focusing on the outcome alone is not going to help you achieve it, but the action you take will.

On the pitch the pressure is immense, and it can make our brains want to race ahead to the result. Performance psychologists advise focusing on the one process you need to follow at that single moment, that way we’re able to use more of our brain to do what is required, giving us the best chance to achieve the most successful outcome.

Routines can help us focus, something you see a lot in football. Notice if Harry Kane is interrupted before taking a penalty, he picks the ball up and starts his process again.

Imagine you have a big presentation or a big event, the key is to focus positively on the process behind the task. If you rehearse it make sure you align it with the outcome you want, prime your brain for how you would like the presentation to play out rather than worrying about what might go wrong.

Focus positively on the process that leads you to the outcome you want.

5. Re-frame emotions and failure

Legacy and history can be reframed and rewritten. I don’t know much about football but I have spent the last 40 years or so listening to how bad we are at penalties. The England players would talk of the dread of taking penalties and avoid having to do it whenever possible. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy; we create this narrative then we live it.

A penalty can be reframed from a threat to an opportunity. Today’s England team are gradually rewriting the narrative of the previous decades. And I’m sure this work will continue after the Euros so they’re even better prepared for the World cup should we end up in the final in a penalty shoot-out!!

Similarly, we carry around narratives and beliefs about ourselves which have the potential to hold us back in our businesses and careers. For example, one I hear a lot in my work, “I don’t like sales and marketing, I’m no good at it.” Reframed this becomes, “Selling is helping people to solve a problem and I’m really good at that.” It takes some work and a little bit of time, but we can re-write these beliefs.

What beliefs and narratives are holding you back and how could you begin to reframe them?

Well done to Gareth Southgate and the team. I’m sure with your continued leadership the team will be back soon, stronger and better than ever.

If you enjoyed this post you might also like to read about one of the hottest topics in leadership, harnessing your growth mindset, click HERE to have a read.

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