One of the most successful coaches in sports and the winningest coach in U.S. Soccer history, Jill Ellis remains committed to teaching improvement both on and off the field – through constant adaptation, lessons in leadership, and the fight for equality.
Jill Ellis has acquired both grit and wisdom during her years working at the highest level of sport. But the lesson that continues to resonate is the one that applies on a universal scale.
“I don’t care if you’re a CEO leading a Fortune 500 company, an English professor teaching a class, or you’re a coach, you must connect with people, instill confidence and find ways to motivate them,” Ellis says.
Ellis’s skill in finding common ground with those around her has been paramount in her role as head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team and former development director of the United States Soccer Federation.
A native of England, Ellis was a decorated soccer player at the College of William & Mary before embarking on a coaching career, with successful stops as the head coach at the University of Illinois and UCLA. She was assistant coach for the gold-medal-winning U.S. Olympic Team at the 2008 Beijing and 2012 London Games, and was named Director of Youth National Teams, United States Soccer Federation, in 2011.
After joining the U.S. Women’s National Team in 2014 as head coach, she led the team just 13 months later to the Women’s World Cup Final, and the Championship. In 2019, she became only the second coach ever to win consecutive World Cup Championships when under her leadership, the team claimed the title again. With 106 wins, 19 draws and just 7 losses, she finished her career as the most successful coach in U.S. Soccer history.
Winning, however, is not the sole focus of Ellis’ leadership strategy. Instead, it is about building and maintaining relationships that will make people want to do their best – whether it’s on the field, at the office, in the classroom or the board room. Jill is currently utilizing her exceptional skill and winning strategies to lead the newly-established San Diego franchise of the National Women’s Soccer League that will begin competing in 2022.
“Leadership now is about connecting – about that human touch,” she says. “It’s the human element of leadership that matters most. I love the challenge of maximizing individual performance while achieving team goals.”
“Be Bold” is a statement at the core of Ellis’ philosophy. She encourages confidence, courageousness, and risk-taking –traits that she believes work no matter your playing field. As a woman in a male-dominated arena, boldness has paid dividends for Ellis, and it’s a message that she wants to spread to other women in leadership positions.
Ellis has, at times, taken a step back to move forward in her career. And those challenges, along with constant adaptation and self-reflection, have been instrumental in shaping her coaching strategy and leadership qualities of confidence and perseverance. However, her most recent career move to the C-Suite of NWSL San Diego is a bold move step forward and will challenge her in new and exciting ways. She wants to do more, achieve more as a leader and make an impact in the sports business world.
Ellis also is a fierce advocate for gender equity, particularly when it comes to the pay disparity between male and female athletes. The vision Ellis and owner Ron Burkle have for NWSL San Diego is to hire an all-female executive and coaching staff—believed to be the first in pro sports history. “Being able to open doors for others, that’s just a really good space to be in – to really help them pursue their dreams, and in doing so, provide role models for the next generation.”
With audiences, Ellis projects a humble confidence, never content to rest on her many laurels. She warmly and proudly presents a message of strength and stability, drawing on her background to tell the story of how she became a renowned leader in the sports world. She shares how she managed big personalities, non-conformists, and rising starts within the teams she has coached and helps leaders translate that to their environments. Jill’s ability to establish a high-performance environment while preparing and anticipating the demands of the future is a message that resounds with leaders at all levels.
Authentically stressing her need to continually learn and adapt, Ellis details the motivational tools necessary to push people beyond their expectations. “You don’t dwell long on what you’ve accomplished,” she says. “It’s which mountain is next to climb.”
Jill Ellis at World Financial Group – Celebrating the Person, Not the Goal
Jill Ellis with U.S. Soccer – Jill Ellis Has Had The Time Of Her Life
Jill Ellis says Persist Through the Struggle
Jill Ellis: “You can’t dwell on a summit”
Jill Ellis and her Pay Equity Analogy
Jill Ellis on Embracing the Spotlight to Advocate for Social Justice
Jill Ellis on her Leadership Style
Jill Ellis’s Speech Topics
Be Bold to Make Leadership Work
As the winningest coach in U.S. Soccer history, Jill Ellis has plenty of experience in molding rosters of talented individuals into successful teams.
Her strategy? Be bold. In this discussion, the former U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team coach will share her leadership expertise garnered from her work with a groundbreaking team. Concentrating on confidence, courageousness, and the ability to take risks, she shares sage advice for how you can apply these traits at work and in life.
Your team may not be playing for the World Cup, but Ellis’ message is universal, as she explains the three cornerstones to becoming a leader that people will follow: a successful connection with people, a clear and attainable direction, and personal humility.
Find the Next Mountain
Motivation is an important aspect of success, but once you’ve achieved something, where do find the drive to continue? U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team coach Jill Ellis knows all too well that challenge after winning two FIFA Women’s World Cups.
Her solution is to step back, look around, and find the next mountain to climb. In this discussion, Ellis shares with audiences both her keys to finding motivation all around you and why it is important to be open to adaptation to realize and reach new goals. She communicates what has helped her be successful in maintaining team cohesion and motivation in a remote working environment.
Ellis touches on why it is important to handle criticism with class and treat it as a learning tool. She shares how taking a step back in her own career allowed her to clearly reset her own goals and find new motivation on the international sports stage.
What other organizations say about Jill Ellis
Coach Ellis was the perfect start to our Annual Meeting. The conversation with her was informative, with valid leadership tidbits to extract, and fun! She was extremely gracious with her time and made each of our guests feel special.
What other organizations say about Jill Ellis
Jill was amazing! Incredible insight on leadership, funny, real, insightful and overall just a really good person. She was mentioned several times as favorite part of the event, and she went well above any expectations.