The pundits were full of praise for the leadership skills of Gareth Southgate ahead of the Euro final. After it, nothing, nada, or, more appropriately perhaps in Italian, niente!

Did he go from being a great leader to a poor one because we lost on penalties? Just how ridiculous is that?

Is winning the only test of leadership in sport? And for that matter, is making a fat profit, incrementally increasing year on year, the only test of leadership in business?

The qualities that Gareth Southgate has shown, both pre and post the final penalty kick, survive the outcome of the match.

In a rare flash of clarity, one sports commentator recognised that, unlike those who call him a ‘nice’ bloke, Southgate is, in fact a ‘good’ bloke, perfectly capable of making tough decisions too. A good, decent, intelligent leader who is aware of his own strengths and weaknesses, one who can draw on the knowledge of expert colleagues and actually cares about people, that’s what we have in the England manager.

When a penalty shoot-out can decide the difference between victory and defeat, you have to look deeper to analyse the leadership skills desirable in professional football.

When rogues, tax avoiders, oligarchs, kleptocrats, criminals and utterly ruthless individuals can make profits year on year, you have to be clearer about identifying what constitutes the best leaderships skills in business.

This past eighteen months has tested business leaders – profit has not been the sole test, survival has.

Morale, team welfare, unselfish togetherness and mutual support, clarity of purpose and superlative communication have all been the badges of leadership success during the pandemic.

I’d want a Southgate model of leader if I played international sport.

I’d want a Southgate model of leader in charge of my company.

Wouldn’t you?

PS John Adair’s book Great Leaders, available on Amazon is the work to study to appreciate what makes a great leader tick in good and bad times.

Published on Jul 14, 2021 by Neil Thomas