4 things Alex Ferguson can teach us about business

thumbWritten by Peter Cosgrove

After over 20 years in his role as “boss”, Alex Ferguson hangs up his managerial boots and it is interesting to note that he did it his way and did not listen to a lot of new management views on how to do the job or how to work differently with different generations – here are four things bosses can take from Sir Alex.

1. There is only one boss

Alex Ferguson was not that well liked, not just by the opposition as that is to be expected but even many former players and back room staff. He is very clear that he is there to get the job done and one thing you will hear a lot of in the next few days is the respect people have for him – not to be confused with likeability.

2. Generation Y needs to be handled differently

We are told that Generation Y (those born after 1980) have different needs and expectations to their older counterparts. If you hear from anyone at Manchester United they will tell you Alex never kowtowed to anyone and expected the same basic things from all his footballers regardless of their age. Maybe the best thing he did was ensure he kept hold of mentors  – the likes of Scholes and Giggs who after years under his tutelage became advisors to the younger generation. For those who say the best way to get ahead is to be less loyal and to move around jobs – just look at the players who have stayed with Manchester United – Ryan Giggs’ records will probably never be broken

3. Don’t change a winning team

Alex Ferguson understood that you could never stand still and he was never shy of making brave decisions whether it was Paul McGrath, Eric Cantona or Roy Keane. No one would argue with their talent but he understood that sometimes one player however talented, may have an adverse affect on the squad overall. So Alex re-built his team a number of times and despite everyone highlighting that player for player Manchester City have a far superior side and that players like Cleverly and Jones would not get into the best Mancheter United sides, he has done what he does best – get his team to win – that as he always said “solves everything”, his key KPI – win football matches!

4. The importance of never giving up

There is no team in the history of football so famous for the last minute goal, now coined “Fergie time” and many managers have complained about this over the years. The real point here is that his team never gave up and fought to the last second and every other team knew this and the mythology around Manchester United always scoring late got into the psyche of nearly every other team they played. Just ask Bayern Munich

So before we look at all the new management styles, take a moment to look at Alex Ferguson – command and control management, the one boss, someone who hated losing. He also never let one talent be bigger than the team and someone who did not seem to care what others thought of him – the most successful manager in the history of the game…. possibly, and that is very hard to write for someone who supports Tottenham Hotspur!

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