Alex Ferguson is one of the few leaders in football who has endured beyond a few seasons. And his genius was his ability to regenerate the team. He regularly surprised people as he moved on through Eric Cantona, Paul Ince, Bryan Robson, David Beckham, Roy Keane, Jaap Stam, Christiano Ronaldo who were all at one time considered indispensable and yet they went and success continued.
What were the characteristics that kept the Ferguson magic going within Manchester United? The Ferguson Way is well documented: you accept someone for what they are, develop them into what you want them to be or move them on. It is as simple as that and businesses when they talent manage should be thinking in the same way accept, train or fire.
Ferguson’s success did not come instantly he had a vision which he stuck to. He mixed youth with experience with the Scholes, Neville brothers, Beckham and Butt which he nurtured he threw experience and leadership with the purchase of Eric Cantona and Steve Bruce. He also knew when players needed to move on.
Alex Ferguson from the off developed his own brand, he was entirely his own man and whilst the temper came to the fore occassionally he will be remembered by those who played for him as a compassionate man, a father figure who set the standards and abided by them, whose values were firmly pinned to his sleeve. Business leaders could learn a lot from that too!
Overall business could learn a great deal from Sir Alex’s success and it was great to see Harvard recognise that when he went to lecture there recently. The real challenge that now faces Manchester United is replacing such a great man, a great visionary and an amazing leader. I wonder if they really have an effective succession strategy in place?