On Tuesday night Gareth Southgate, England Manager, demonstrated true leadership.
You may think I am going to discuss his leading the team through a tough game against Columbia to make it into the last 8 of the world cup. Maybe to reflect on key strategic or tactical decisions that he made during the game.
However, the leadership that truly stood out was the picture of Southgate, after the euphoria of winning a tense penalty shootout, consoling one of the Columbian players who missed one of the vital kicks. In that moment Southgate not only sowed his class as a man but gave a true indication of the kind of leader he is. In that moment he demonstrated to his team and those who he is responsible for that whilst he has a strong desire to win, he also has the kindness and compassion to support someone who was in need.
Southgate himself had suffered in 1996 the feeling of missing a crucial spot kick and the resulting public humiliation that was heaped on his shoulders. The UK press were not kind and I am sure that experience still affects him.
On Tuesday night the Columbian team had not exactly played within the spirit or laws of the game – indeed there had been many activities and behaviours that were designed to try to trigger a reaction in England players. Much of this behaviour was disgusting and certainly didn’t show the beautiful game in a good light. However, even despite this provocation Southgate took time out amidst the England celebrations to put his arm around and give a hug to a member of the opposition team who was clearly distraught at having missed his spot kick.
In that moment Southgate showed that whilst the joy of winning was significant, it did not rise above showing genuine care and support for a fellow professional. That was true leadership – to rise above the pressures of the game, the result and everything that had gone before and find the time, in that moment, to reach out and help up a a young man who was distraught.
Southgate actions have been highlighted, rightly so, in the press and has been lauded as an example of true sportsmanship. For me it was also the epitome of leadership. Those actions say more about the leader and the man than any speech or interview. Southgate’s example to his team was clear to see – we are here to win but we are here to win in a manner that shows respect for those we play against.
Mindset Associates are changing the world one leader at a time and we love highlighting examples of where great leaders step up and demonstrate the values and behaviours that we believe are needed to create positive change. If you would like to speak to us about how we can help your leaders drive a positive change in your organisation please contact us at Mindset Associates
Haydn Bratt, Pioneer, Mindset Associates