4 lessons we can all learn from Gareth Southgate's leadership style.
Gareth Southgate’s leadership style is a sharp contrast to the controlling and intense leadership of previous managers. Moreover, it’s working. We consider four key areas of his leadership style and examine how we can apply these to help us become more successful leaders and managers in the business arena.
Compassion balanced with ruthlessness. The commentators that know Gareth Southgate describe him as a “nice guy”. Before the World Cup, this was joined with “he’s too nice”. Not anymore. No longer is his quietness and calmness seen as a weakness. This has proven to be a strength, keeping his players calm under moments of intense focus and pressure.
A nice guy who is not afraid to make tough decisions, evident when he dropped Rooney and Hart and when he faced criticism resting key players in the Belgium game. He believes in himself and his decisions and executes them with courage.
Don’t believe the hype. Everyone can recall that moment when Southgate missed his penalty in Euro 96. That moment has stuck with him, and he could have let it eat away at him. Instead, he’s used this to make him stronger. In life and business, we will all make mistakes. We’re human. It’s inevitable. However, it’s how we react, use and learn from those mistakes that matter. How we build our resilience.
In a recent interview, Southgate said: “You’re never as good as they say you are when things are going good, and you’re never as bad as they say you are when things are going bad.” Don’t let praise go to your head, and equally, don’t let criticism go to it either.
Encourage the team to enjoy their work. Past players have talked about the strict regimes previous managers implemented in recent tournaments, leaving players nervous and restricted. Southgate has learned from his time in the England team. A team that enjoys itself will perform better. This doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want and under-perform. It says that they are respected as individuals and encouraged to relish their time in the squad, creating a strong team spirit.
During the World Cup, the players have looked more relaxed, are talking to the press more, seen laughing and even playing keepie ups on the sub bench. Southgate commands respect without being threatening, and players feel they can be themselves.
Supporting his team. If you listen to Southgate’s interviews, he is not critical of his team. Yes, he identifies areas where he feels they need to improve however he does not single out individual players for criticism. Equally, when the commentators ask him to praise a particular player, Southgate mentions the other players that contributed and focuses the attention on the performance of the team, rather than the individual. Although this may differ in the dressing room or private conversations, Southgate publicly supports his team and steers firmly away from any blame culture.
The nation’s eyes and expectations are on Southgate’s shoulders, yet he still delivers a robust lesson in leadership. His managerial style will continue to inspire us long after the World Cup ends and the fashion fad of waistcoats.
Quiz: What is your leadership style?
This quiz helps you to identify your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. Take the quiz here.