Insights for Business Leaders: Eddie Howe, Ted Lasso and the Enduring Wisdom of John Wooden

Livingston James Director, Ali Shaw, shares key qualities and attributes that can be applied to the business world, based on an analysis of traits exhibited by coaches Eddie Howe, Ted Lasso and John Wooden.

With the Premier League ending a few weekends ago, most neutrals will have been pleased to see Newcastle United finish in the Champions League spot. The team are very much ahead of their plans with much of this success down to the exceptional talent of their manager, Eddie Howe. Also (sadly) concluding last week, was the final season of the loveable TV coach, Ted Lasso at Richmond AFC.

In the world of football and coaching, these two individuals have left an indelible mark with their leadership styles and ability to inspire teams to success, and both have drawn inspiration from the same person: legendary basketball coach, John Wooden.

I first heard about Wooden from an interview with Eddie Howe in The Telegraph and enjoyed reading his publications, including his Children’s book ‘Inch and Miles – The Journey to Success‘. This was bedtime reading for Howe’s kids too. If you’ve got young kids, be sure to check it out.

I thought I’d explore the key qualities exhibited by Howe and Lasso, influenced by Wooden’s teachings, and discuss how these attributes can be applied in the world of business.


Vision and Long-Term Thinking

A common thread connecting Eddie Howe, Ted Lasso and John Wooden is their unwavering commitment to a clear vision and long-term thinking. Inspired by John Wooden’s philosophy, Eddie Howe embraced the idea of building a sustainable football club by nurturing young talent and focusing on attractive, attacking football. Similarly, Ted Lasso, influenced by Wooden’s teachings, emphasises the importance of setting long-term goals and instilling a sense of purpose within his team.

Modern business leaders can learn from the trio’s dedication to vision by establishing ambitious yet attainable long-term goals. By creating a roadmap to achieve these objectives and effectively communicating them to their teams, leaders can inspire and motivate employees to work collaboratively towards a shared vision.


Building a Strong Team Culture

John Wooden’s teachings on leadership emphasised the significance of building a strong team culture based on trust, respect and unity. Both Eddie Howe and Ted Lasso incorporated this principle into their leadership approaches. Howe, inspired by Wooden’s emphasis on camaraderie, fostered a positive and supportive environment at AFC Bournemouth & Newcastle. Similarly, Ted Lasso places great importance on team spirit and creating a sense of belonging within his fictional team.

Business leaders can emulate the trio’s approach by prioritising team culture. Encouraging open communication, recognising individual contributions, and fostering a collaborative work environment are essential for creating a strong team culture. Such an environment promotes employee engagement, boosts morale, and enhances overall productivity.


Emotional Intelligence

Another trait shared by Eddie Howe, Ted Lasso and John Wooden is their display of emotional intelligence. Wooden, known for his ability to connect with his players on a personal level, recognised the importance of understanding their individual needs and motivations. Both Howe and Lasso drew inspiration from this aspect of Wooden’s coaching philosophy, demonstrating empathy and genuine concern for their players’ wellbeing.

Business leaders can benefit from developing their emotional intelligence by actively listening to their employees, understanding their perspectives, and offering support when needed. Leaders who can empathise with their team members’ challenges and aspirations, create a positive work environment conducive to trust and loyalty.


Adaptability and Resilience

Adaptability and resilience are traits exemplified by Eddie Howe, Ted Lasso and the enduring wisdom of John Wooden. Howe faced numerous challenges throughout his managerial career but remained committed to his long-term vision for AFC Bournemouth as they moved up through the leagues, making necessary adjustments along the way. Similarly, Ted Lasso’s ability to adapt his coaching methods despite his limited knowledge of soccer showcases resilience inspired by Wooden’s teachings.

In the business world, leaders must embrace change and demonstrate resilience in the face of adversity. Adapting to new circumstances, learning from failures, and fostering a growth mindset within the organisation are essential for long-term success.

Eddie Howe, Ted Lasso and John Wooden exemplify leadership qualities that resonate with business leaders. Their commitment to vision; focus on building strong team cultures; display of emotional intelligence; and ability to adapt and persevere in the face of challenges, provide valuable lessons for inspiring and motivating teams in the business world.

By embracing these traits, business leaders can foster a positive work environment, build strong team cultures, and navigate challenges effectively. As the examples of Eddie Howe and Ted Lasso demonstrate, leadership that combines a clear vision, emotional intelligence, and adaptability, can lead to remarkable achievements and drive sustained success in the world of business.

For the record, I’m a Killie and Everton fan laughing in the face of both potential relegations taken place. I believed…


For a confidential discussion around building an impactful leadership team or your own career development,  please contact [email protected] or visit our website.

Can we help?

If you are looking for leadership advisory or recruitment support, please get in touch with our team of experts.

More Articles...