Right now as England face a World Cup Quarter Final against Sweden in two days, the talk of the town is not the players – usually the focus of most of the hype when it comes to football (Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar etc) – but the England manager, Gareth Southgate. It seems that everyone loves him.
I am very firmly in that camp too – Gareth Southgate comes across as an absolutely top class man. He conducts himself with humility, grace and calmness. He doesn’t make it all about him (take note Jose Mourinho). He encourages his players to fulfil their potential. He speaks honestly. He obviously cares deeply and understands that so many others do too; whether that’s the fans in the stadium whom he takes time to acknowledge after a match, the press corps, the English public etc.
One extraordinary photo, published after England beat Colombia on penalties in the previous match, shows Gareth embracing the Colombian player who missed their crucial penalty. In light of the particularly spikey nature of the on-field contest, this is especially remarkable. Contrast this with the German coaches who invoked the wrath of the Swedish manager earlier in the tournament by celebrating their last minute winning goal wildly right in front of the Swedish bench in an act of gross unsportsmanship which saw then banned by the German Football Federation.
Who knows what will happen in the rest of the tournament but there’s no doubt that the England manager has shone as an outstanding leader and his players (those on the inside) and the rest of the country (those on the outside) are firmly behind him in wishing him every success.
Leadership is about having clear goals, vision, communication, strategy, KPIs, performance measures and the like, but (and it’s a really big but!) it’s at least as much (I would argue more) about character – being a leader others trust and will gladly follow.
It’s why Personal Leadership is step 1 in LMI’s Total Leader process – it comes before Productivity, Motivational Leadership & Strategic Leadership. Leadership is influence through relationships. It’s a people thing. Gareth has got this part of it spot on and, best of all, it seems entirely genuine. He is being authentic, true to himself rather than following some leadership playbook. All leaders take note – the world’s a much happier place and results are much more likely to be good when you have this level of goodwill towards you.
Best of luck Gareth and the team. YOU have won us over and we would be delighted to see you succeed (not sure I could have said this about your predecessor).
P.S. If you’ve not seen it yet, check out the Twitter feed #GarethSouthgateWould for some light entertainment!