Top 5 Nonprofit Leadership Lessons from Ted Lasso

Ted Lasso is taking the world by storm with his positive, can-do leadership style – a breath of fresh air in our current environment.

If you aren’t familiar with this award-winning show on Apple TV+, here is a quick synopsis:

Ted Lasso (played by Jason Sudeikis) is an American football coach who moves to London to coach AFC Richmond, a fictional UK Premier League English football (soccer) club. The comedy follows Ted, his assistant coaches, and players as they navigate their season and the accompanying challenges and triumphs.

Five Nonprofit Leadership Lessons Inspired by Ted Lasso 

1. Believe. 

In season one, Ted slaps a makeshift “Believe” sign in the team’s locker room above his office door. Although first seen as a corny act, with Ted’s team development efforts, this sign becomes an important symbol of hope.

ted-lasso-believe-heroWithin philanthropy and mission-driven work, it’s imperative to believe in your team and your mission. If you have moments of disbelief, return to your core values, and ruminate on your “why.” This will provide you with a sense of direction when your work seems aimless. 

2. Admit when you need help. 

Ted surrounds himself with his staff (nicknamed the ‘Diamond Dogs’) that aid him in his decision-making. To scale your organization’s critical work, you must delegate to your leadership team and board. When you are in a pinch or need assistance, call upon your ‘trusted advisors’ for feedback. With a team of experts contributing to problem-solving, you will more quickly and easily determine a solution.

3. Foster individual growth of your team.

Ted takes the time to get to know his team and uncover each player’s unique motivations and challenges. In season one, he gives each player an inspirational book to inspire him to reach his full potential.

Professional development is personal development. As a nonprofit leader, if you take the time to determine each team member’s passion as it relates to her or his role, you can foster that motivation. If your team feels “seen,” they will be more likely to work efficiently, effectively, and passionately for the betterment of the organization.

4. Celebrate the small wins.

In season one, Ted hosts a birthday party for one of his players despite their having lost a game earlier that day. He receives criticism that he is not focused on winning, but Ted states:

Ted Lasso

“For me, success is not about the wins and losses. It’s about helping these young fellas be the best versions of themselves on and off the field.”

Each small success is a reason to celebrate and recognize your team. For example, if your events team hosted their first hybrid event with meeting 25% of the fundraising goal, recognize their efforts, and encourage them to utilize the experience as a learning opportunity.

5. Make difficult decisions for the betterment of the organization. 

As coach, Ted has to make difficult, unpopular decisions for the long-term development of the team. One of these decisions includes benching one of his top players during the midst of a tough game.

Nonprofit leaders must be willing to take risks despite criticism or fear. Your team will respect your ability to act, and they will appreciate the clarity your tough decisions will provide.

As you navigate the end-of-year fundraising chaos, keep these five lessons in mind, and remember:

I believe in hope. I believe in Believe." 


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Posted by Kelly Perry

Kelly Perry is a Digital Marketing Manager, Nonprofit Solutions at StratusLIVE. She has over eight years marketing and communications experience within nonprofit technology and the publishing industries.

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