It’s not coming home but Gareth Southgate’s good leadership still is

Phil Keoghan

Written by Phil Keoghan, CEO of Ricoh UK & Ireland

England may have lost their chance of winning the World Cup this time round, but Gareth Southgate has led the English side further than they’ve been for a long time – uniting people and doing the country proud. And while we all hoped for success, it’s important to reflect on the positive progress of the team and its leader over the last few weeks, which saw England impressively reach the semi-finals.

Looking at Southgate’s leadership of the team, and gratitude of the country, has made me consider the virtues of being a good leader.

Great leaders have a sense of purpose and vision. They guide, not manage, and those that wholly succeed have learnt through their mistakes, as well as sharpening their skills.

Like many before me, I’ve had to navigate my way and have not always chosen the best or easiest route; but what that’s taught me is that being able to adapt and move on quickly brings a sense of pride, as well as relief.

That’s why I encourage those who I work with to take on the mentality of fail fast and learn quick – after all, without failing, you’d never experience the satisfaction of succeeding.

And that’s exactly what Southgate has done. He has created an environment and culture for players to thrive. He sent them onto the pitch believing in themselves and not being afraid to fail.

In doing so, he’s shown trust and belief in his people. That, to me, is an immensely powerful quality. A great leader doesn’t focus on themselves – they focus on the people they’re leading. If you apply this to business, an organisation can only be successful if the people within it feel truly valued, empowered and listened to.

If more leaders adopted an approach similar to Southgate’s, recognising that through a deeper understanding of their people they could unlock the full potential of their workforce, the results would be transformative at both a micro and macro level.

In fact, findings from an economics study commissioned by Ricoh and Oxford Economics show that if business leaders across the UK aligned on culture, workspace and technology, putting their people at the heart of their success, productivity and performance improvements alone would increase UK GDP by 1.8%. That equates to £36.8 billion of untapped GDP.

With this figure comes a responsibility to UK businesses. At Ricoh, we’ve taken this on and offer a tiered leadership programme that is recognised by the British Quality foundation. By guiding and supporting our people, we hope to build a new generation of leaders that will also pass on the power of investing in people and in doing so, strengthen and contribute to the growth of the wider economy.

The World Cup might not be coming home, but Southgate’s demonstration of great leadership is, and that, in its own right, is a win for England.