What Would Ted Lasso Do? Conscious Leadership Tips for Agency Leaders

Conscious Leadership Tips for Agency Owners showing them climbing up a hill


Conscious leadership is an approach that pushes marketing agency leadership beyond conventional methods, advocating for a deep commitment to self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and ethical standards. Some leaders argue that this is the key to thriving businesses. Conscious leadership suggests that leaders adopt a forward-thinking mindset, with a focus on fairness to all stakeholders, reasoned decision-making, and maintaining integrity. Drawing inspiration from Ted Lasso quotes on leadership, this method offers strategies for agency leaders to drive meaningful, positive change.

Hey, conscious leaders! Yeah, you! Are you spending your days running from meeting to meeting at your agency, fighting fires, making quick decisions, problem-solving, and kicking ass at breakneck speed?

Do you ever look around and think, “Well, that day went by in a blur!”

While that sounds like the ambitious, hard-working, motivated, and energetic marketing agency leaders we know, love, and serve daily, it sounds like someone operating in a permanent reactive mode–or leading on autopilot. 

So, if that sounds remotely like you, here’s your permission to slow down momentarily, set aside conventional business wisdom, and explore your conscious leadership journey, and bring humanity through business. 

Why? Because conscious leadership demystifies strategies that simply aren't working for you.

Now, before you get defensive, know that it’s perfectly normal. Most people barrel through life thinking about what is happening to them. Hate to break it to you, but to become a conscious leader at a digital agency, you can't operate that way.

Stick with us because unconscious leaders running agencies are a thing of the past. This one’s about to get a little meta as conscious leadership brings deep insights into the business world to ultimately serve society better. But we promise it’s also for creating space for incredible growth for your agency. And we’ll make it fun with some valuable leadership lessons on radical responsibility with a few Ted Lasso references. OK?

What Is Conscious Leadership?

For some, the term “conscious leadership” evokes the idea of big-hearted hippies who can’t stomach the tough realities of running a business. For others, it sounds like an academic principle best left to the liberal arts students. In fact, it offers deep and important insights and innovative techniques into how to create dynamic organizations.

The term was co-created by the CEO of a multi-billion dollar corporation: Whole Foods founder and American businessman John Mackey. Maybe you’ve heard of him? 

Conscious leadership closely explores commitment to practice self-awareness, personal growth, emotional intelligence, community-building virtues, and aligning personal obligations with today's business world.

As the global economy evolves, conscious leaders need to develop the habit of thinking about the way they lead, not just leading reactively. Ultimately, conscious leadership is the guiding principle to do what is right by every stakeholder, without exception. When you put people first, success follows.

It's an empowering call to do better.

Does Compassionate Leadership Benefit My Digital Agency?

We understand that as a digital marketing agency leader, you have an obscene amount of obligations on your plate. Psychoanalyzing yourself may be faaaaaaar down the list of things you want to make time to do. But think about it: de-prioritizing your leadership style essentially says, “My leadership doesn’t matter.” After all, if it’s not worth being intentional about it, you clearly don’t believe it affects the outcome: we're talking about both the balance sheets and your team's well-being.

We’ll go out on a limb and say that’s not the case. You know that your conscious leadership–good or bad–impacts your agency and the global economy.

Quote from Michelle Van Blerck on Conscious Agency Leadership

If productivity killers are draining your team, it’s on your head. If your agency succeeds, you’ll probably say you had some part in that, right? So if we can agree on that, then we can agree there’s an advantage to making your leadership the best it can be: intentional and aligned with your values. 

Dynamic organizations like agencies need conscious leaders. You’re a central part of your agency’s ecosystem–directly and indirectly affecting everything with your decisions, attitudes, actions, and inaction. Think about how your biases, preferences, unspoken motivations, and other thought patterns could be influencing any of these areas at work:

Leadership sets the tone at a marketing agency–for better or worse. Unconscious leadership can cause talented employees to suffer burnout, great ideas to go unspoken, or valid metrics to be ignored. So if you want to create a ripple effect that moves things in a positive direction, start with yourself and the way you lead. (And after you’ve done that, check out these other tips to grow and scale your agency.)

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Will Conscious Leadership Make Me a Sucker?

Some people can’t shake the notion that conscious leadership is just a fancy way of saying, “Be a doormat” or “Let others take advantage of you.” That couldn’t be further from the truth.

As someone conscious of his role as a leader, much of the Ted Lasso show revolves around people misjudging Ted for his unfailing positivity, humility, bold authenticity, apparent naivete, and kindness. He is pegged as a joke, a pushover, a buffoon, and an easy mark by heroes and villains alike, who discover one by one that their initial impression was wrong.


The show’s charm is in the simple message that Ted succeeds in ways great and small, on and off the pitch, by leading with intent. Even when Ted has to make some hard decisions to bench a star player or respond to insults in the press, he doesn’t do so in a reactive, insensitive way. He does so with class and compassion. We don’t have to be on autopilot. We can choose how and when to take the high road.

And that’s it; true leadership is about leading with intention in today's changing world and making an important contribution to your team's well-being. It’s not about avoiding hard decisions, cutting people undue slack, or accepting mediocre performance: far from it. Conscious leadership is about taking every action as a conscious leader with awareness, integrity, and respect for others’ humanity. 

Even if you practice conscious leadership, you can still:

  • Hold your employees (and your clients) accountable

  • Let go of staff who are not a good fit

  • Make hard decisions for the greater good of the agency

  • Say no

  • Make choices others might not like or agree with

Let’s dig a little deeper and poke a few holes in some common misguided objections to conscious leadership.

  • Conscious Leadership Myth #1 - “I don’t have time to worry about what I say and avoid hurting feelings. I just want to talk. Some employees need to grow a thicker skin.”

Ted Lasso would agree that this is a ridiculous argument; you already know how to adjust the way you speak to suit your audience. You wouldn’t talk to your million-dollar client the way you would to your best friend at his bachelor party.

As a marketing leader, you know the power of words. You can speak clearly, effectively, and honestly without being demeaning, rude, crass, intimidating, or hurtful–and we’re sure you expect internal communication at your agency to meet those standards of professionalism.

Maybe you don’t care if your words ruffle some feathers–but what if your unfiltered words silence a brilliant employee? If your off-the-cuff remarks cost the agency its talent, it’s time to re-evaluate if the problem is their sensitivity or your unwillingness to change.

  • Conscious Leadership Myth #2 - “I need my staff to respect me. I can’t let them know every time I’m wrong. They won’t trust my decisions.”

Consider that people will respect you all the more for being able to freely admit when you are, in fact, wrong. Ted Lasso always admits when he's wrong. He doesn't shy away from acknowledging his errors or shortcomings, even in front of his team. This vulnerability and humility are what make him relatable and approachable as a leader.

Being honest about your failings encourages others to do so. When you lead by example, you create a more honest, open, and therefore productive workplace, where staff comes forward to fix their mistakes rather than trying to hide them, make excuses, or scapegoat others.

You’ll miss opportunities to learn, grow, and improve if you never admit you’re wrong. And you didn’t become a conscious leader for your marketing agency by stagnating–so why start now?

  • Conscious Leadership Myth #3 - “I can’t be zen all the time. We have a lot of work to do, deadlines are real, and profits do matter!”

Totally agree with you–but your attitude determines your reality. You can face the same situation acting cranky, panicked, and making knee-jerk decisions, or you can stay calm, cool, and collected. If the roles were reversed, who would you rather follow?

Deadlines are real, and profits do matter. But that’s not to say that they’re the only things that matter. Ted famously tells a journalist that he doesn’t care about wins and losses–a shocking thing to say as a football coach. It turns out he does care about winning–just not at the expense of everything else. You, too, shouldn’t lose sight of the bigger picture for yourself and others. 

Kim Walker Marketing Agency Core Values Quote Shop Marketing Pros

Are you genuinely better, more productive, and smarter when you’re running on autopilot? Or, by chance, would your performance improve if you allowed yourself to practice mindfulness, particularly in moments of high stress?

Look, we’re aware that Ted Lasso is just a comedy show and not actual evidence that conscious leadership works in the context of digital marketing agencies. 

But… there’s this great bit where Ted is replaced by his alter ego, “Led Tasso.” Led has all the hallmarks of a coach who isn’t conscious at all of his impact on the culture and morale of his team. He shouts, name calls, gives unclear directions, and dolls out harsh punishments on a whim. It’s exaggerated, to be sure, but the same reactive, unthinking, and mercurial leadership style is exactly what you get when you don’t practice conscious leadership.    

3 Simple Tips To Become a More Conscious Agency Leader

Hopefully, by now, you’re convinced to give conscious leadership a try. We’ve got three simple tips to get you started, with a practical exercise for each that you can try today. 

1. Conscious Leaders Look Inward for Greater Awareness

It all starts with some serious self-examination: a deep understanding of your thinking patterns, habits, triggers, biases, trauma, identity, insecurities, and ego. You can do this yourself or enlist the help of a licensed therapist. 

There is a litany of books, classes, apps, methodologies, and other tools out there to help you on your journey of self-reflection if you choose to go it alone. But if it’s within your means, a professional can help you narrow in on key focus areas and suggest resources and regimes that are best suited to your needs. 

Therapy isn’t just for the “emotionally scarred” or for “times of crises”; therapy is a great way to accelerate growth and go from good to better. (Funnily enough, the writers on Ted Lasso tackle this very topic; Ted describes himself as having a “General apprehension and a modest Midwestern skepticism” towards therapy–it turns out that skepticism was rooted in avoidance.)

Try it today: Go home and journal (like actually write on a piece of paper) about who you were as a leader today – and be as honest with yourself as possible. What do you think you did well today? Where did you fail today? Consider a few of your interactions with others today: how do you think you were perceived? What did you notice about the other person?


2. Conscious Leaders Practice Empathy

It’s one of the most epic Ted Lasso moments: the infamous dart game of Ted VS Rupert. Ted quotes Walt Whitman, “Be curious, not judgemental,” and proves that caring is not only the right thing to do, and it’s also the strategic winner. 

When we care enough to recognize that our colleagues and clients are complex human beings and get curious about their needs, baggage, histories, strengths, and weaknesses, we ultimately find a way to maximize our relationship with that person. Judgment, on the other hand, temporarily puts us in a false sense of superiority, which can be comforting, but doesn’t allow for connection with the other party. 

Try it today: If you can, find someone who’s working on a project that’s particularly exciting for your agency and book them for a casual one-on-one. Ask them to walk you through their thinking for some of the choices made on the project thus far. Get curious about what’s influencing their decisions, what’s holding them back, and what they’d do differently, given the opportunity. Most importantly, listen with an open mind.

3. Conscious Leaders Let Go of Ego for a New Vision

“What have I got to learn here?” Ted speaks this powerful quote to Nate in a moment when many others would rage, blame, or walk out. Accepting, even when someone has wronged you, failed you, or disappointed you, that you could be part of the problem is as intensely difficult as it is empowering. And that is what you get when you can shed your ego and be vulnerable. 

The ego is defensive–it shirks responsibility and aims to cast blame. It doesn't take on new challenges well. It insists on being right, knowing all, and wielding a self-righteous sense of authority. Vulnerability, on the other hand, accepts that it’s OK to be wrong; it’s OK to make mistakes; it’s OK to learn from others, no matter where they are on the org chart. 

Quote from Yanira M Castro on Conscious Agency Leadership

Vulnerability acknowledges that everyone will have a different read on the situation, that your experience is not their experience, and yours is no more or less valid than theirs. 

Try it today: Admit a work-related mistake or insecurity to someone at the office to whom you wouldn’t normally confide in something so personal. Analyze how it feels. 

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Own the Role of the Conscious Leader–Don’t Let It Own You

Conscious leadership is a simple concept that puts the onus on leaders to be aware of how they’re leading and to choose a compassionate way to do business mindfully. That’s it. That’s the article.

The premise is like that old saying, “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Being a good human doesn’t mean you’ll be bad at business. When you lead your agency with intention, integrity, and kindness, you build an environment where high achievers can perform to the best of their ability. Put people first, and success will follow. It’s as beautiful as it is empowering.

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Elyse Gagné bio

Written by

Elyse Gagné

Elyse Gagné develops branding and content strategies that unite businesses with their customers. A podcast junkie, you'll find her learning about the latest technologies and brand storytelling techniques while she gardens or hikes.

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