Corinne Zudonyi

Like so many, I am a fan of “Ted Lasso,” the popular Apple+ series about an American football coach hired to lead the U.K. AFC Richmond football (soccer) team. I love the series because the title character is charming, flies under the radar and shows a side of leadership that is inspiring.

One of Lasso’s main rules: Never let them see you sweat. Every manager experiences stress — either professionally or, as in the case of Lasso, on a personal level. What sets strong leaders apart is their vulnerability and openness to dealing with the truth head-on. Leaders who handle struggles this way will set the tone for the rest of the staff.

That level of honesty should help give managers what they all want, to be liked and accepted by the team. But strong leaders aren’t afraid to also be the “bad guy” now and then. Like Lasso, managers must be willing to make tough decisions that are best for the team, even if it means upsetting an entire stadium of fans.

Although it’s the right thing to do, making tough decisions isn’t always easy. They will weigh on even the best managers, which is why self-care is so important. Improving both mental and physical health will protect managers from burning out. In Lasso’s case, he was reluctant to accept help, but in the end, he took care of himself and was there when his team needed him.

Without giving away too many spoilers, the last leadership lesson I learned from Ted Lasso was to focus on a person’s intentions, not necessarily their actions. In too many episodes, Lasso should have been furious with the actions of members of the team, management and even a few fans. But instead of lashing out, he quickly forgave them because he realized that their intentions were pure, and maybe they just chose a poor way to communicate. By responding the way he did, Lasso demonstrated that he is a leader who is committed to investing in a team member’s professional development, even when they make mistakes.

Being a leader isn’t easy. It takes constant work and a whole lot of effort, but that effort can pay off. In this month’s cover story, we spoke with a handful of BSC leaders that have put in some long hours and some blood, sweat and tears to get where they are today. Check out their success stories here.