Self Improvement

Ferguson’s Formula

Sir-Alex-Ferguson

By Jonathan Carroll

Alex Ferguson recently addressed a Harvard business class here in Boston. The former Manchester United manager was loved by United supporters as he found a way to win with each team he managed. Club allegiance aside there are great aspects one can transfer from his philosophy into your own life in order to be successful. Here is a breakdown of some of the questions Ferguson answered while in the company of Harvard Business Professor Anita Elberse. A full transcript of the interview is linked at the bottom of this article.

 

Lesson 1. Start with the Foundation

“When you give young people a chance, you not only create a longer life span for the team, you also create loyalty. They will always remember that you were the manager who gave them their first opportunity.”

Lesson 2. Dare to Rebuild Your Team

“The hardest thing is to let go of a player who has been a great guy — but all the evidence is on the field. If you see the change, the deterioration, you have to ask yourself what things are going to be like two years ahead.”

Lesson 3. Set High Standards — and Hold Everyone To Them

“I constantly told my squad that working hard all your life is a talent. But I expected even more from the star players. I expected them to work even harder.”

Lesson 4. Never, Ever Cede Control

“There are occasions when you have to ask yourself whether certain players are affecting the dressing-room atmosphere, the performance of the team, and your control of the players and the staff. If they are, you have to cut the cord.”

Lesson 5. Match the Message to the Moment

“For a player — for any human being — there is nothing better than hearing ‘Well done.’ Those are the two best words ever invented.”

Lesson 6. Prepare to Win

“I am a gambler—a risk taker—and you can see that in how we played in the late stages of matches. … If we were still down—say, 1–2—with 15 minutes to go, I was ready to take more risks. I was perfectly happy to lose 1–3 if it meant we’d given ourselves a good chance to draw or to win. So in those last 15 minutes, we’d go for it.”

Lesson 7. Rely on the Power of Observation

“I came to see observation as a critical part of my management skills. The ability to see things is key — or, more specifically, the ability to see things you don’t expect to see.”

Lesson 8. Never Stop Adapting

“Most people with my kind of track record don’t look to change. But I always felt I couldn’t afford not to change.”

 

A full transcript of the interview can be found here.

 

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