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What can Gareth Southgate teach us about leadership?

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Lizzie Tasker Blog, Work Life, Tips...

Whether you’re a football fan or not, there’s no doubting that the England team, along with their manager Gareth Southgate, did an excellent job of lifting the nation’s spirits after what has been such a difficult time for so many.  

Whilst they didn’t quite bring it home this time, we’ve picked ourselves up from the disappointment of last Sunday, feeling positive that the foundations have been laid to take us all the way at the World Cup in Qatar next year.

And, while we patiently wait for football to come home, we’ve been reflecting on why this team were able to do something that has eluded the England men’s squad for the last 55 years.

Behind every great team is a great leader, which is exactly what the England team have found in Gareth Southgate. We could all learn a thing or two from his approach (not just the wannabe football managers who appear during a major tournament - we all know a few of those!), so here’s our take on what sets him apart from the rest.  


The job of England manager might be some people’s dream but it certainly takes courage to step up to the role and carry the nation’s expectations on your shoulders.

Faced with a seemingly impossible task, Southgate set out to do things differently. From the back office team around him to squad selection, he follows his own formula and isn’t afraid to go against the grain - even if it means leaving himself open to criticism.


Southgate himself is the epitome of professionalism; he remains calm under pressure, takes responsibility for his own actions, but also when to celebrate success and give praise and reward.

His manner will set the tone within the team, just like how a negative or toxic work environment is unlikely to yield good results, his quiet confidence creates the right conditions for success.

Nurture talent

You don’t need to look any further than the way Southgate immediately went to console 19-year-old Bukayo Saka after he missed the penalty which confirmed England’s fate as runners-up.  

Southgate’s young team brings the raw talent, but to get to the final of major tournaments, you need more than just talent. One of the biggest factors in Southgate’s success is the confidence and belief he’s instilled in every single one of them, enabling them to be the best they can be - both on and off the pitch.

This ability to adapt your style to different individual needs is key for leaders to build a solid and cohesive team.

Team mind-set

Previous teams might have been carried by a few stand-out star players, but in the squad created by Southgate, everyone has their part to play, knows their role, and that they are all equally as important.

In a workplace setting, it’s important for individuals to understand the wider objectives and the part they play within that. A motivated team is an engaged team.


The fact that Southgate has walked in his team’s shoes (or football boots in this case) and knows what it takes to step up to take a penalty with the world watching - and then miss - only adds to his ability to empathise with his team.

It also makes him extremely credible. As we see in work-based settings, managers who are hands-on, lead by example, and aren’t afraid to get stuck in, are much more respected than someone who has a more bureaucratic style.

So, what do you think makes Gareth Southgate such an inspirational leader? Did we miss something? Let us know!