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Delve Deeper


What can we learn about leadership from Gareth Southgate?

11 July

Believe us, the Delvers are not football experts, but we know a great leader when we see one.

What exactly is it that has got the whole nation wearing waistcoats and talking about Gareth Southgate?  People certainly had their doubts when Gareth introduced a team of young inexperienced players earlier this year, but he had a vision of success that no one else could see and has continued to inspire his team to believe everything is possible. So, is Gareth Southgate an unlikely hero or is he an authentic leader demonstrating human qualities?

What does it mean to be an authentic leader and what results does it achieve?


Have a clear sense of purpose

We know that people who have a vision and sense of purpose about what they are here to do tend to be more resilient, focused and clear about what the end game looks like.  When the people around you don’t believe in your vision, it can be hard to stay on track. Think about when you have walked the wrong way around Ikea, how does it feel?  It can feel frustrating when people are tutting and complaining about you not following the arrows like everybody else.  It took courage for Gareth to go against conventional thinking and rest some players in the game against Belgium.  For true transformational change to happen, it is supposed to feel exhilarating and a little bit scary, but slowly, little by little, you start to influence the system.


Get the team on board

When you hear the players being interviewed, all of them talk about the importance of teamwork. It is about the team, not the individuals and you can hear that they are all clearly bought into the vision of what is possible.  A good leader knows how to tap into what motivates and inspires each member of the team and creates conditions where people can play to their strengths.  Add a splash of human leadership and what you get is a player who was supported with a visit home to witness the birth of his baby.  We are sure that the player returned with an even greater sense of loyalty and commitment to perform.  Gareth has clearly taken the time to find out what is important to each member of his team and what makes them tick.  Long gone are the days when supportive family members were kept away during competition time.


Learn, all of the time

Learn from the good and the bad.  Gareth stated in an interview that there have been many days when he has woken up and just wanted to stay under the duvet (www.ucfb.com) but his mindset and his determination to bounce back has led him to where he is today.  He describes himself as having a thirst for knowledge and constantly exploring new ways of working. He doesn’t just learn from setbacks on the football pitch, he looks to other sports for inspiration and best practice.

How often do we look outside our own team or own organisation to learn best from others?


Lose the ego

Getting the right balance between support and challenge can be tricky.  Gareth is calm, composed and supportive, we’ve even seen him hug players when they miss penalties. This is a contrast to some managers who shout and scream from the side lines, trying to influence play but destroying morale in the process.  Gareth’s approach is one of trust where the hard work has already happened through training, and the team know what they have to do.


Celebrate small wins (and hopefully big ones)

It is great to celebrate along the way, they may have stepped up and overachieved, but Gareth’s team stay calm and focused on the end game.  They haven’t once become complacent and are clearly mirroring Gareth’s leadership qualities.  Whatever happens tonight, Gareth and his team can be proud of their success so far. It doesn’t end here; this team are already on their way to achieving world class football way beyond this world cup.

It’s coming home!

At Delve, our approach to leadership focuses on authenticity and being human.  Get in touch to find out more at sayhello@delveod.co.uk.

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