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Leading a winning team

Values and control from Sir Alex Ferguson

Instilling values

Values are not just a random set of words that HR and Marketing professionals use to decorate the walls of the office with. If created properly and communicated well they’re a strategy for success.

Your team are your key to success. It’s vital that each one of them understands and buys in to the values that everyone else does. If they don’t, it doesn’t matter how good they are, they’re not right for you. For more on values read ‘May the fourth be with you and your brand values’.

Values are a behaviour, not just a set of words. Sir Alex knew this, and he led by example. He worked hard, he was the first one in and the last one out. Success was the only option and that only comes with hard work.

If you give in once, you'll give in twice. - Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex used to say this to the team all the time. To instil this into the team, they practiced winning when they were losing. When they were 0-1 down and there was 15 minutes left or when they were 3-0 down and there was 5 minutes left. Every ounce of strength went into turning the game around. Every strategy was planned for.

I don’t know if Sir Alex had a set of values back then, but if he did I think they would be something like this:

  1. We’re a family
  2. We play for each other
  3. We play to win
  4. Working is winning

Being in control

We’re not talking about the over-obsessive-freak kind of control here. We’re talking about confidence, belief, having the courage of your convictions. Strength and response.

It’s not about looking for adversity or for opportunities to prove power; it’s about having control and being authoritative when issues do arise. - Sir Alex Ferguson

We all know that football is fraught with massive egos. What's not so obvious is that this is a good thing. Sir Alex had no problem with egos on the pitch, to him it was good that the players were egotistical. It meant winning was even more important to them. But, players with large egos need to be managed carefully, a good manager needs to stand their ground when issues do arise. They must have a strong belief in their values and the achievements of the club. As Sir Alex says:

The long-term view of the club is more important than any individual. - Sir Alex Ferguson

As harsh as this may sound to some, it’s true. It’s also vital to remember when your star player is behaving like a stroppy teenager and the newspapers are breathing down your neck!

Look at the example of Beckham and the football boot (you can read Sir Alex’s account here). Although you might not have the newspapers breathing down your neck you may well have problematic staff members who need to remember that they're part of a team. And you have to tell them.

For more information on how to lead by example, work out what your values are and how to instil them contact

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