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    Leadership and Project Management by Alex Ferguson

    on 9 December 2015

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    Posted by Sam Abrahams

    All that sideline masticating, training pitch hair drying and dressing room shoe throwing may be well documented enough, but are there any secrets to Sir Alex Ferguson's success that could be translated to the contemporary business sphere?

    In today's world of fierce competition, cloud-based collaboration and project management, we still value essential assets such as teamwork, strong leadership and innovation; all qualities that we might expect to see on the football pitch as much as in the workplace. So, shortly before his retirement, a Harvard Business School professor conducted a study into Ferguson's methods, identifying eight lessons for the business leader.

    Here we revisit that insight into Sir Alex Ferguson's views on leadership and success.

    1. Start from the bottom up

    What Ferguson said: "When you give young people a chance, you not only create a longer life span for the team, you also create loyalty."

    The lesson: Start with the most essential characteristics, systemically project managing towards your concept of success.

    2. When you need to, rebuild

    What Ferguson said: "We tried to visualize the team three or four years ahead and make decisions accordingly."

    The lesson: Think beyond short-term wins, and invest in talent that you believe will carry the organisation forward in the future.

    3. Set the bar high

    What Ferguson said: "Everything we did was about maintaining the standards we had set as a football club—this applied to all my team building and all my team preparation, motivational talks, and tactical talks."

    The lesson: Everybody in the team needs to share your goals and strive towards them.

    4. Never cede control

    What Ferguson said: "I wasn’t going to allow anyone to be stronger than I was. Your personality has to be bigger than theirs. That is vital."

    The lesson: If you believe in yourself as a business leader, you can't allow your position to be compromised. So take steps to ensure that the whole team retain their respect.

    5. Be sensitive to the occasion

    What Ferguson said: "Few people get better with criticism; most respond to encouragement instead."

    The lesson: Encouragement goes a long way towards extracting the best performance from your team.

    6. Gamble on a win

    What Ferguson said: "Being positive and adventurous and taking risks - that was our style."

    The lesson: If you are highly ambitious, taking risks is a necessary strategy - just don't expect it to always come off.

    7. Be observant

    What Ferguson said: "My performance level jumped. I came to see observation as a critical part of my management skills."

    The lesson: By delegating intelligently, and by entrusting teams to complete their tasks, you will be afforded greater opportunity to make cool assessments and the correct strategic choices.

    8. Adapt or die

    What Ferguson said: Most people with my kind of track record don’t look to change. But I always felt I couldn’t afford not to change.

    The lesson: Innovation, bravery; these are necessary qualities in organisations that aim to achieve continued success in a competitive environment.