It can’t have escaped your notice that Gareth Southgate has shrugged off the label of ‘penalty bungler’ and been declared a national treasure thanks to England’s World Cup 2018 performance. Forget Batman’s cape, this summer our superhero is a waistcoat-loving legend – both his country and his team adore him. As well as sending England’s collective mood sky high, leader Gareth has delivered a masterclass in people management, and there’s plenty to be learnt from his exceptional performance. Start studying Southgate, and you’ll discover the secrets to great leadership.
Southgate Secret #1 Keeping cool
England’s young lions are full of potential, and they exceeded all expectations at the World Cup. They are not perfect, and their manager is honest about it. Gareth is a calm and collected guy. Instead, he talks honestly about their challenges, takes responsibility when things go wrong and is keen to learn and develop his team. By keeping his cool, England’s manager is able to think clearly and strategically, using obstacles and performance issues as ways to improve.
Southgate Secret #2 Be Inclusive
Like any great leader, Gareth understands that culture is vitally important in getting the best out of your people – and that means being inclusive. His vocal commitment to ensuring there is no prejudice in the team, his willingness for players to be open about their struggles (in particular Danny Rose’s battle with depression) and his motto of ‘Family comes first’, that saw Fabien Delph leave Russia to be present for the birth of his child, proves he means it. By showing great compassion and empathy for his team, Gareth has created a trusting and safe environment for his people. So much so that defender Kyle Walker described the team as being ‘like a family now’.
Southgate Secret #3 Don’t lose your temper
The tradition of managers ruling with a rod of iron has been entirely rejected by Southgate. He doesn’t scream and shout from the sidelines, nor does he deliver brutal character assassinations in the dressing room. It’s difficult to get great performances out of your people if they are scared to death of you, or you are using fear as motivation. By refusing to play the blame game and respectfully delivering constructive criticism, this manager gets better results from his team.
Southgate Secret #4 Exert your influence
It’s easy to bark out orders to your team and expect them to follow them. It’s also very unlikely to deliver the results you want. The England camp is run in a very different way, with communication being pivotal to how Southgate operates. So, instead of ordering his men about, Gareth guides and influences them, so they can fully comprehend what’s needed and understand their role in the team. His strategy is to create a club football atmosphere in the international team and make everyone feel as connected as possible. If you can achieve that in any workplace, you will enjoy far greater engagement from staff, and engaged staff tend to be much more productive. They also tend to hang around because they enjoy working for you, which saves you a fortune in recruitment costs.
Southgate Secret #5 Lead by example
The leader of any company, you have to set the tone for your business. That’s something Gareth Southgate has done with aplomb. He’s made it clear that violent England fans are a disgrace, refused to engage with media mind games and displayed true decency and thoughtfulness throughout. Never was this more evident than when Gareth comforted Columbian player Bacca, who missed the decisive penalty that sent England to the semi-finals. Despite the Columbian team being very aggressive on the pitch, and repeatedly fouling his players, Southgate showed compassion and humility at that moment by embracing Bacca and won himself even more fans. England didn’t leave the tournament with the World Cup, but they did depart having elevated their reputation as a decent team with real potential.
Of course, doing slightly better than expected in a football tournament doesn’t make Gareth Southgate the world’s greatest manager. But if you were told you could turn around a failing company in the space of two to four years, any sensible leader would grab the chance with both hands. The England team go forward with pride and passion restored and feeling incredible about their opportunities in the future. Who wouldn’t want a motivated, engaged and adoring workforce, ready to deliver peak performance to achieve the company’s goals?
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