6 Leadership Skills We Can Learn From Sir Alex Ferguson

27 years at the helm of one of the biggest brands in the world! Can you imagine that? Well as the news broke that Sir Alex Ferguson will retire at the end of his 27th season as manager of the one of the greatest football club on the planet, I thought I would try and look at his qualities as a leader and see how they can be used in the business world.

1. Lead From The Front

Every organisation needs a figure head, someone to make important decisions and lead a team of people to success. Sir Alex Ferguson has been all this and more for Manchester United. He has led the players, the staff, the fans and the club for 27 years. No player has ever been bigger than the club or indeed Sir Alex himself. Sir Alex took it upon himself to develop the youth team, the coaching systems and the scouting systems and molded the club in his image. The amount of late goals and come backs over the years is no coincidence. Ferguson’s mental grit and determination flows through the club and will continue to do so long after he leaves. Be apart of your team and let your influence rub off on them.


As a leader you have to command the respect of your team. Some people are born with the ability to lead and some grow into this position. A leader’s ability to rally the troops and inspire them is an invaluable asset and something that Sir Alex Ferguson has done time and time again in his Man United career.

At the end of the game, the European Cup will be only six feet away from you and you’ll not even be able to touch it if we lose, and for many of you, that will be the closest you will ever get. Don’t dare come back in here without giving it your all Sir Alex Ferguson 1999 Champions League Final

3. The Hair Dryer

The hair dryer treatment has a universal link to Sir Alex. It has been exaggerated over the years but he was never afraid to have a go at someone for under performing. Regardless of age or how much your paycheck is worth no player was safe from get a telling off.

4. Instill Confidence In Your Team

Sometimes a little bit of encouragement and faith goes along way. At the beginning of the 1995-96 season, Man United fans were expecting major investment in the team after the sales of two or three major stars. Fergie put his faith in a team made up of youth. This prompted the famous Alan Hansen quote “You’ll never win anything with kids”. ‘Fergie’s Fledglings’ as they were known went on to win an English league at cup double. He always showed faith in his teams ability and so should you. If you want to get the best out of your team, you must make them feel like they can make a difference and be the best they can be.

5. Build and Maintain Relationships

You can’t underestimate how important it is to build and maintain relationships. Sir Alex is known for having great relations with other managers from around the world. He also maintains relationships with ex staff and players. Relationships in business are vital. If you work with someone on a one off make sure you maintain the relationship you built, as you never know when you might need them again in the future.

I call him Boss because he is the boss of all managers
Jose Mourinho

6. Ability To Move With The Times

Football like most industries is ever changing. Getting stuck in the past and dwelling on it can be a leader’s greatest downfall. Over the last 27 years Ferguson has evolved and rebuilt Manchester United whilst still maintaining an incredible rate of success which has seen him win multiple league titles in three different decades. As a business if you’re not willing to move forward you will be left behind.

So as Manchester and football mourns the retirement of arguably the greatest manager ever to grace the beautiful game, don’t forget what he not only did for football but what he has taught us as a leader of a global brand at the forefront of its industry.

Think about which of these qualities you already possess and show within your role? Now think about which of these  qualities you can learn from and bring into your role to make you a more successful leader or employee?

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