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Ted Lasso: Unifying Collaborator

Updated: Aug 7, 2023

During three seasons, Ted Lasso showed us how to lead an organization through transformation. Most of us won’t ever lead a national football club, but many of the lessons apply.

Ted himself is the one who had to change.

Ted’s Green Anchor: Full of Heart

Throughout the series, the Green heart of Ted Lasso never varies.

Green focuses on people first. Empathy, civility, and connection. Ted is all about teamwork, harmony, and building trust. At the beginning of the series, when Ted is criticized by Richmond’s fans for not knowing the sport, he responds by saying that he coaches people, not the sport itself. Ted is determined to lead with empathy so individuals feel comfortable. Ted’s default is to help each individual be their best self: then, success as a team will follow.

But is a Green Anchor enough to take the team to the finish line? Will the team members feel good about losing? Ted faces challenges as he leads AFC Richmond. He needs to amplify his natural Green tendency for harmony with different capabilities at various times. In the rest of this post, we will explore how he achieved this in each of the three seasons by pairing his Green Anchor with different Spotlight dynamics.

Season One: Empathetic Collaborator

In season one, Ted simply couldn’t get Green enough. He amplified his Green Anchor with a Green Spotlight. This combination requires a respect for communication and connection above all else. But does too much of a good thing work twice as well? Not always.

From the beginning, Ted reveals his Green Anchor through his consistent optimism and regard for others’ feelings. Someone who has a double Green prioritizes other people’s feelings above their own, as Ted does in the beginning, moving abroad to accommodate his wife’s need for space. He joins AFC Richmond after coaching an American football team in the United States. Despite knowing nothing about soccer, he enthusiastically takes the role and seeks to establish trust.

And is Ted trusted? Absolutely not. The players see him as incompetent. Is he capable of actually coaching a team in the Premier League: the top tier of English football? They don’t think so. Ted responds with his double Green approach. He has an idea to make a “comment box” to get feedback from the players on what they would like to see change on the team. While most players do not take this invitation seriously, and fill the box with crude comments, Ted immediately takes action on a comment he receives about poor water pressure in the team showers, showing his commitment to making the players feel comfortable and feel “heard.”

Another example is Ted's determination to connect with Rebecca, AFC Richmond’s owner. Every day, he brings in cookies to have “Biscuits with the Boss.” While she resists at first, not wanting to connect with him, he is persistent in bringing her the cookies every morning. She presses him to find out where he bought them, and he won’t tell her. Later, we see Ted making the cookies from scratch in his kitchen. There’s nothing more Green than homemade cookies created for the sole purpose of connecting with someone and building trust.

These heartwarming examples reveal the positive aspects of Ted’s default dynamic, but what happens when there is too much Green? As with any dynamic, an overload of certain qualities can create a lack of balance. We see this challenge at the end of season two when, despite Ted’s efforts to connect with the team and put people’s feelings first, they lose too many games. Ted has been treating his role as coach as a way to grow his players and staff, not win games. Green often lacks an external motivation for success.

Let’s see what happens to Ted's Green Anchor when it’s paired with a different Spotlight.

Season Two: Visionary Collaborator

After losing their place in the Premier League, Ted faces a new challenge: helping the team win or tie enough games to regain their place. When priorities and challenges in organizations shift, individuals must respond by developing and showcasing different capabilities. Ted’s Power Pair™ in season two is “Visionary Collaborator” – a Green Anchor with an Aqua Spotlight.

Ted’s Aqua Spotlight

Aqua is the hexagon associated with having a strong vision and big-picture perspective. With Aqua, success is about the entire ecosystem, not just one individual or one team. Moreover, success is not about ego, power, or status, but instead, it’s measured by its impact on the greater good. Aqua ensures all the individual parts of the organization are harmoniously working together to create balance within the ecosystem.

In the case of Ted Lasso, the ecosystem is made up of AFC Richmond and all of its stakeholders: the owner, the coaches and staff, the players, and the fans. Ted’s new challenge is to coach AFC Richmond back into the Premier League, which benefits all stakeholders. Ted keeps this mission as his north star.

With a double Green dynamic, Ted would have been in a bind since Green avoids friction, sometimes even by being passive aggressive. But Aqua serves the greater good. Throughout seasons two, Ted chooses in favor of the ecosystem.

His approach works. After the team regains its place, though, they're still underdogs.

Season Three: Unifying Collaborator

In season three, Ted is faced with a different challenge. After a rough start to the season, the owner pressures Ted to win. In response, we see Ted shift dynamics again, this time pairing his Green Anchor with a Purple spotlight. This Power Pair™ is a Unifying Collaborator.

Purple is a popular dynamic for sports teams. A Purple culture reflects a strong community with a sense of belonging, stability, and identity. Success is all about the team’s victory, not individual glory. Loyalty is prized, and uniform symbols and colors appearing on the merchandise represent the community’s importance over individuality. Purple has an us-against-them mentality. Fans want to see their team win.

Ted’s Purple spotlight shows his shift to prioritize not the individual or the ecosystem, as he did previously, but the team.

Finally, Ted steps into the traditional role of a football coach, focusing on becoming the leader the team needs. It works.

At the end of the series, when Trent Crimm finishes his book about Richmond’s season that year, he first names it The Lasso Way. Ted then tells Trent that it was never about him. Here, we clearly see Ted’s Purple spotlight: everything he did was about strengthening the team unit and bringing the focus back to AFC Richmond. At the end of the final episode, we see that Trent renames his book The Richmond Way, reflecting the Purple ideals Ted emulated as coach in the final season.

He won by adapting to reality. Our mission is the same: to help you adapt to the pressures you and your team face in real time to get ahead of constant shifts.

-- by Jane Marie Hutcheson


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