If, like me, you are one of the millions feeling rather ‘blue’ this Monday because of England’s defeat yesterday then take heart of the ‘soft’ victories that emanate from Gareth Southgate’s leadership. In a pandemic world where mental health awareness has skyrocketed and we are being urged to be compassionate towards others, I have developed an interest in the forms of leadership that would serve us well going forwards.

Gareth Southgate stands as a giant of a leader.

Safe to say that I would love to have him as a boss. Always on tap for his players, taking responsibility for things that go wrong and spreading the feel good factor of victories to boost everyone’s morale.

Leadership has not always been this model of cooperation and enablement. In the 1980s, successful leadership was a boss who cracked the whip.  Gordon Gecko’s model of ‘Greed Is Good’ ran parallel to Margaret Thatcher’s ‘This lady is not for turning’ or some words to that effect. If you did not make people squirm, there was something wrong with your leadership. Life under such a boss was hell unless you happened to be a favourite of his and it was more often than not a man who was the boss, except for Thatcher.

It was not much better In the 1990s when a boss told me not to worry ‘my pretty head’ over something quite big that was brewing on the horizon. I didn’t worry after that about it because it was obviously not my place to. Why take on something if no one expects you to? The danger that I was trying to warn him off did occur, by the way.

Fast forward to the 21st century and a slow burning change is taking place. Words like ‘authentic’, ‘honesty’ and ‘transparency’, which I was initially sceptical of as being just ‘management speak’, are manifesting themselves as everyday practices. As my scepticism recedes somewhat, it is quite remarkable that there is some recognition that the workplace doesn’t have to be a hostile environment. Such environments are best left to the battle fields of the world.

Midlifers, like me, will be watching our children join the workplace. My daughter is looking for a job. I would hate to think that she and others could be bullied or harassed with the ease that it once was seen as a boss’s ‘strength’ to do so. Let’s have more of the Southgate spirit please.

According to this article, Gareth Southgate’s leadership qualities are:

Be Honest and Authentic

Be Brave with your Decisions

Be Positive and Generous

Trust by People

Lead by Example