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The Coaching Dept. Blog

The Learning is Everywhere!

If you are a passionate student, you can find learning everywhere. You can learn from anyone and learn from anything. I have learned from a lot of people this month. It would be hard not to when you coach Extraordinary people at the top of their game. But this month I would like to focus on what I learned from Garry, Nir, and Ted.

Gary is Garry Ridge, author and CEO of the WD40 Company.

Nir is Nir Eyal is a lecturer and author of books that include “Hooked” and “Indistractable”.

Ted Lasso is a fictional character played by Jason Sudeikis.

The big inspiration I got from Garry Ridge was the difference between a “Soul Sucking Leader “and a “Servant Leader

Nir Eyal hit me with the idea that so many people are dealing with stress in their careers, and it is not that they have stressful jobs as much as they are in a stressful work environment. He said the biggest cause of stress is a combination of High Expectations and Low Control.

After I go into more depth with these two concepts, I will explain what I learned from Ted.

Here are Garry’s Characteristics of a Soul Sucking Leader

  1. They are masters of control—know all the answers
  2. They feel like corporate royalty—The King, The Queen, they “deserve”
  3. They believe learning is for losers
  4. They believe that ego eats empathy— “Me” and “I” centered
  5. They have all the answers
  6. They must always be right—take credit, give blame
  7. They create a fear-based culture
  8. They believe micromanaging is essential
  9. They do not follow through on commitments
  10. They hate feedback

The Servant Leader

  1. They involve and love their people—three most important words are “I don’t know”
  2. They are always in servant leadership mode
  3. They are expected to be competent
  4. They are connected—emotional intelligence
  5. They love “learning moments
  6. They have a heart of gold and a backbone of steel
  7. They are champions of hope
  8. They know micromanagement is not scalable
  9. They do what they say they are going to do
  10. They treasure the gift of feedback

Imagine a place where you go to work every day, you make a contribution to something bigger than yourself, you learn something new, you feel safe and are protected by a compelling set of values and you go home happy. Happy people create happy families, happy families create happy communities.

As you read all of that you may be thinking about how you are as a leader, or you may be thinking about the leaders you have or have had in the past.

Whether you are thinking about you or the people you lead I would ask that you consider the cost of have souls sucked. What does it do to our health? What does it do to our effectiveness? What does it do to our passion? What does it do to our organizations? What does it do to our families? What does it do to our industry?

Now to Ted Lasso!

If you are not familiar with the series it is a story that begins with the premise that a soul sucking owner of Premier League Football (Soccer) team continually humiliates his wife with his infidelity, his words, and his actions and eventually loses his marriage. In the divorce he also loses his Premier League Football team to his wife whose soul he has successfully sucked. Now that she is an owner with a sucked soul her great ambition is to ruin her ex-husband’s pride and joy.

The first step in the plan is to find a new manager for the team that will certainly fail. She appoints Ted Lasso, a Division II (American) college football coach to lead her team to ruin. In addition to hiring someone with very low competence in the world he is being dropped into, she does several things to undermine him, so he is sure to fail.

You can learn from what people teach with their words and you can learn from watching what people do. Their behaviors and the way they are in the world teach more than their thoughts on how you should be. I realize that Ted Lasso is a fictional character, but I also know I have coached a few Ted Lasso-like characters in my career.

I watched the first season of this show in one night. I can tell you that after doing so I was a little more excited about life. I was so grateful that over the past 21 years I have had the privilege to play the Ted Lasso role with so many people. Perhaps every large organization has someone or a few who feel they need to play the role of soul sucker. I truly hope they have an organization where a Ted Lasso-like person can counteract them.

I could go through each of the characteristics of the servant leader and refer you to a scene that exemplifies Ted illustrating that characteristic. The one characteristic that might be in question on first glance is the servant leader is expected to be competent. It is easy to see Ted as incompetent when it comes to his knowledge of the technical side of his new game, but he is clearly competent in his role as a coach.

He cares about people. He believes in them until they can believe in themselves. He gives them control and helps them to embrace accountability. He is vulnerable enough to show them who he is. He stands up for people. He gives them tough feedback in a way they know he has their best interest in mind. He inspires. He is light, fun and funny. He gives credit and shoulders the blame. He sees his people below their surface. He is forgiving. He is generous. He is imperfect and he knows it. He follows through on his

commitments. He is wise and generous with his down home wisdom. He also bakes.

Perhaps the thing I admire the most about Ted Lasso is his unwillingness to allow others to suck his soul. We can all feel the weight of our critics at times but whether Ted is being attacked by the media, being ridiculed in the streets, getting negative feedback from his players or being called names by a full stadium of people, he doesn’t let it bother him.

When someone attempts to suck the soul from one of his people, he stands up!

If you would like to discuss your learning from this month, please contact Shelley or me. We are always ready to learn.


Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA. To arrange a coaching session please call toll free 1-866-822-3481 or or

Kevin MacDonald and Shelley MacDougall are the coaches for CMAA. CMAA offers coaching as a benefit of membership. To set up a coaching session you can call 1-866-822-3481 toll free.

About the author

Kevin MacDonald

Kevin MacDonald founded Clarity Success Coaching in 2000. Kevin is deeply passionate about his work with his clients and loves living on purpose to assist those he works with to elevate their lives and live to their fullest potential. Kevin MacDonald is a Coach and Facilitator, a Communicator and a Storyteller. As a Coach he initiates action from within the people he touches. Kevin believes that knowing who you are is critical to your success. Kevin's business and management background combined with his exceptional Coaching skills make him an asset in any people development initiative.

Kevin is a member of the International Coach Federation and a graduate of Teresia LaRocque Coaching and Associates Abundant Practice Program. Kevin has received his Coach training from Coach U. Before he began coaching he spent over 20 years as a manager in the hospitality industry. His focus now as a coach is to inspire his clients and help them lean the skills in that they can use to change their lives. Kevin empowers his clients so that they can take the actions that will start to change their behavior so they begin see the results they are wanting in life.

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