5 things I learned from Gareth Southgate
The football may have finished for now, but what can we learn from their phenomenal Manager?
Gareth is all about emotional education. He doesn’t stop himself or his players feeling what they need to feel – it’s ok to feel sad, let down, frustrated. But he teaches them to be careful what they do with it. If you’ve just been fouled, don’t let that frustration earn you a yellow card, use that energy to play well and get your next goal. Same goes in the workplace. If you’ve been wronged in any way, don’t get back at them, but use the energy to make you a better person.
He took responsibility when he missed the penalty for England all those years ago, and took responsibility with the line up he chose for penalties last night. He’s about embracing responsibility rather than shirking it – taking ownership when things go wrong is hard, but it’s given us even more respect for him. In the workplace, take responsibility, even/especially when things go wrong. Every decision counts, and whether on the field or in an office, so long as you can justify why you made the decision, people will respect you. Southgate also taught as a key lesson in resilience. He could have let the missed penalty drive him away from the game. Instead, he let it propel him into a position where he could manage those doing that very same task. He showed that the best way to learn resilience is to live it, and that a rejection of any kind, can just be a redirection.
Integrity counts, and it matters. Gareth Southgate has shown by his own example, and that of his current team. Scandal isn’t rife amongst players, quite the opposite – they’re using their energy off-pitch to fight child hunger, racism, and many other worthy causes close to their hearts. They have become men not splashed across tabloids due to gossip, but they’re being taken seriously, and they’re making a difference in their communities for the better. This also mirrors on the pitch. They’ve made a few mistakes, but generally played with great integrity, earning fewer yellow cards than the other side. It may not make them win, but it does mean they have completely earned our respect. Integrity in the workplace matters just the same. Be someone without scandal or blemish – be known for your hardworking attitude, and for your ethics and kindness. It’ll take you far.
It takes enormous courage to take the penalty that counts for England. It takes courage to be in the spotlight, knowing that whilst we sing when we’re winning, people can so cruelly and wrongly turn to blame when things go wrong. Gareth took courage both as a player, and as a Manager. He had the courage with decisions, and with the ways he reacted. He had the courage to comfort players last night, whom he knew exactly how they felt. He took the courage to put himself back in that most painful place as a Manager, knowing his greatest moment of weakness had propelled him to his greatest moment of strength. Don’t be afraid to take courage in your role. Allow yourself to put yourself forward, allow yourself to be bold, and with a good team behind you, it’ll be ok to make mistakes – what matters is you tried. Have a go at being innovative, at trying something new, and be a cheerleader for others in your workplace doing the same. Also, have courage to say no. Have courage to recognise your boundaries, and respect the parameters.
As soon as the match finished, after respectfully shaking hands with the opposition, Gareth Southgate took each player in turn, held their heads up, and encouraged them. In team talks, in every post-match interview, he wasn’t dissecting their misdemeanours, but he was building them up and encouraging them. I heard it once said to ‘praise in public, scorn in silence’ and he definitely follows this rule – in public he pours praise over his players and support team. I assume behind the crowds sometimes he needs to ‘have a word’ – but he knows when and how this is appropriate. He’s big on encouragement, and he knows that’s how to get the best from his team. So what does this mean for you in the workplace? Be an encourager! Find someone each week to say or send an encouragement to. Seek out the great work in others, and reasons to praise them. Build up colleagues, and build bridges with encouragement.
Gareth Southgate’s leadership comes at a price. He gives his all, and feels everything. But it’s the best price to give.
We’re proud of you.
Team England – we’re proud of you. Let’s remember not the missed penalties, but the weeks of high-class football, and a final so strong it got to that final decider.
Let’s learn from the way Gareth Southgate and the team conduct themselves, and let’s all be better people for it.
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