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The Gareth Southgate effect: The secret to management success

by: Jeff Knight, director of marketing, Foundation Homeloans
  • 12/07/2018
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Despite the anguish of the semi-finals, seeing Gareth Southgate lead England further than expected, can still give us all something to think about with regards to leadership.


And if you think the concept of leadership is over-rated, just think for a minute if Southgate’s predecessors were still in charge. I am certain we would not have experienced the same euphoria, just the same old complaining.

So what are the qualities of good leadership and what can we learn from Gareth Southgate?


Have nous


Southgate clearly worked out what would work and what would not, particularly in the way he developed the 5-3-2 formation, based on the players available. In the past, previous managers did not show such leadership skills, instead trying to shoe-horn gifted players into the team.
Part of this comes down to being able to listen to your team and communicate their strengths and weakness effectively. Often, it is during these team evaluations or “review” periods where the hidden talents of team members come to the foreground.


Have vision


A good leader has a clear vision and then gives the “team” the autonomy to deliver. With Southgate, he sets out a strategy of possession football, played from the back and creates an environment where his team could, without fear or panic, play this out and ultimately win.


Have clarity


Southgate does not wholly consider success to be victories in the World Cup; instead he talks about learning for the future and creating a strong bond in the team. In other words, he set achievable milestones of success rather than set out for failure by not winning the cup.

Have courage


Southgate has taken some brave decisions, in terms of formations and players. All leaders must make brave decisions from time to time, which can often include knowing when to change a strategy even though it may currently work – rather than relying on the premise if “it ain’t broke why fix it…”


Be an inspiration


While Southgate has studied different leadership styles, he has developed his own style. This makes him authentic. This enables him to be able to inspire the troops in a way that feels more natural and in a style, that’s more comfortable.

Be a builder of lasting teams


One thing that I have heard countless times during the World Cup is that Southgate has created a great team, rather than assembled a collection of individuals as in previous tournaments.

A good leader needs to build a strong team. As so many pundits have said during the tournament, England do not have any stars but Southgate has created a team structure based around the player’s strengths and how these player’s strengths complement each other.

Tip: get your team to do the StrengthsFinder test (search it online) so you understand the talents of your team and how to harness these together.

For some, leadership is natural. Southgate has only made it appear this way because he has learned from others, previous mistakes and planned meticulously to become a great leader – an important attribute many would benefit from should they choose to adopt some of his methods.

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