Alex Ferguson Leadership Style – Skills And Qualities

5 Leadership Qualities of Sir Alex Ferguson


How many trophies did Alex Ferguson win? Incredibly, in his entire legendary managerial career he won 49 trophies whilst managing St. Mirren, Aberdeen, and Manchester United.


His coaching success and team leadership achievements speak for themselves, but what makes Sir Alex Ferguson a good leader and what were some of his key management qualities? Let’s dig a little deeper and explore further below.



#1 – Discipline and Focus


“Due to my upbringing in Glasgow and having a strict father, I was always early to meetings and rarely wasted time. To achieve your potential as a leader you must be disciplined”


Why is Alex Ferguson a good leader and how has his management skills brought so many trophies? We will explore his leadership style, qualities, and 5 key principles every aspiring leader can use.


Ferguson says; “make your team accountable to your standards”


All leaders liked to be loved and respected, however when it comes to discipline, Ferguson’s approach is direct and clear.

  • Express your vision to your team.

  • Pinpoint your expectations and standards.

  • Work as a team to achieve your desired goal as a leader.


Ferguson is famous for his hairdryer treatment, however it was not always effective for every player. This is due to his players having different behaviour styles and traits.


Therefore to motivate your team for greater performance levels, you must take into account who your disciplining depending on their character, what level of assertion you apply and how they will react.


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Sir Alex Ferguson Football Trophies with Manchester United - Infographics - Live And Learn Consultancy


#2 – The Power of Confidence


“All great leaders inspire great confidence in their people”


Sir Alex Ferguson leadership style is not only respected in the football world, but also the world of business and aspiring entrepreneurs.


The leadership lessons displayed by Alex Ferguson over the last 30 years have continually defied the odds by breaking record after record.


Alex Ferguson says, “I try to instil confidence in my staff and players through providing selective praise and recognising their worth. However, it’s important my team are not over confident as this can lead to poor performances and complacency”


#3 – Competition Makes Real Leaders Focus


“You must have hunger a desire to succeed, talent and potential can only be fully realised if those two elements exist. Don’t fear your competition but instead embrace it”


Competition is a good thing for any individual or team in the workplace. Without real competition, our progress can halt and we can become complacent.


It’s a clear measuring stick to see where we are and where we are going. Competition must exist to help us all move forward.


Healthy competition in any industry provides the platform for greater togetherness, teamwork, and focus. It’s the leader’s role to ensure his or her team rise to the challenge. Sir Alex Ferguson leadership style and qualities when it comes to out thinking, out working and performing his competition is legendary.


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From stopping the Liverpool dominance in the early 90’s, to out gunning Arsene Wenger’s invincibles, his appetite to compete at the highest level and ambition for more trophies year after year is what truly sets him apart from others.


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#4 – Build For The Future


“Leaders who have success over a long period of time understand the real value of growing their own stars”


For team leaders at work, this means giving young apprentices the freedom and opportunity to gain experience in your team and thrive under your leadership style.


Sir Alex Ferguson leadership style and management qualities were partly inspired by the great Sir Matt Busby who believed in talented young football players given the opportunity to succeed.


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This was apparent with the famous Busby Babes with the likes of Sir Bobby Charlton and Duncan Edwards. As a young boy in Glasgow, Ferguson was once an apprentice himself, so from first-hand experience he knew the importance of being given a chance to progress.


He also understood what delegation in management is as he delegated this work out to his youth development department and extensive scouting network across Manchester, the UK, Europe and various continents.


#5 – Being Resilient is Important


“Every leader must be able to take defeat, learn from it and move forward. Coming from a working-class background in Glasgow, it gave me was a purpose, resilience and determination”


Why is resilience important in leadership? Hard times, losses and failing to meet targets are a reality for all of us, however it’s how we handle adversity and hardships that separate weak leaders from stronger leaders.


People who possess strong resilience skills will ultimately;

  • Recover from adversity and hard times quicker.

  • Stay focused on their goal.

  • Possess the mental toughness to bounce back stronger.


Ferguson says, “being resilient as a leader will play a major role in how your team respond to defeats and challenges. After all, it was Manchester United’s trademark to come from behind and win. Without resilience and mental toughness, we would never have one the Champion League Title in 1999”


Want to become a successful leader or manager at your workplace? Live And Learn Consultancy’s 1 day Leadership & Management Courses are a great option.


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