We’ll miss him now he’s gone: Fergie’s leadership tips for CIOs

goal of leadership

By Helen Beckett, Community Manager

Love him or loathe him, everyone respects Sir Alex Ferguson for his (surely) unbeatable management record in Premier League football. As part of a die-hard Gooner family, the feeling was often of antipathy, especially when it came to canny tactics and baiting-the-opposition mind games of which he was a master.

Sir Alex could probably make a fortune on the leadership speaking circuit if he so wished. Being a man of action (sometimes the boot-hurling variety) more than words (and then, often swear words) I doubt somehow whether this rarefied circle will be his next move. It’s still fun to wonder what his advice might be to new CIOs and business leaders however.

Described as a one-eyed monster and a tyrant by adversaries, Fergie’s style and tactics were honed for fierce competition where there could only be one winner. These qualities are not so compatible with a collaborative world where team working and soft skills are highly prized. However it’s worth remembering he struggled in the early years and learnt from his mistakes. Everyone can take something from his winning style of leadership.

So suspend disbelief for a moment and play these  words from Sir Alex to CIOs  in your head – in a Glaswegian brogue, if you can.

  • Know everything there is to know – not only about your own team but your opponents’, both in the boardroom and the wider organisation. Mastering the detail is everything in knowing how to play your hand.
  • Believe in your mission, and expect your team to do the same. This will infuse a winning spirit where the sum is far greater than all the parts.
  • Be generous and share your knowledge with younger managers and colleagues making their way. This won’t diminish your power – but will extend your authority.
  • Don’t forget to sit down with your peers over a glass of fine red wine from time to time. It’s good to know the enemy – and you may need to share information or call favours at some point in your career.

If anyone else has any ‘Fergie tips’ for CIOs please pass them on.

 

Also by Helen Beckett

Helen BeckettHelen Beckett is the Community Manager of the Business Value Exchange.  She has been a writer and editor for over 20 years and takes a particular interest in the challenges facing the CIO in today’s business climate.

Helen Beckett

Author: Helen Beckett

Helen Beckett is the Community Manager of the Business Value Exchange. She has been a writer and editor for over 20 years and takes a particular interest in the challenges facing the CIO in today’s business climate.

  • Ensure the regulatory bodies are staffed by allies such that they will rarely if ever act against you. Bully the press and refuse to speak to any journalist who dares to print anything derogatory about you or your organisation, thus ensuring the majority of stories will be positive.

     
  • Hi Ben, thanks for putting your point; take it you’re not a United follower, then…Yes there’s been a lot of eulogising about Sir Alex in recent days; but my point was – what can IT and business leaders take from him? Yes, some would say Fergie took ‘influencing’ to extreme lengths – but he did attempt to influence! Some might say the CIO is danger of being timid and cowed by the board. Should the CIO take an stronger stance at the board. Is that the way to get results for the IT and the business??

     
  • Steve

    How about “Adapt”? Fergie has been masterful at the way he has kept an open mind to learning, and has continually incorporated innovation, new thinking and new ideas into all of the disciplines that contribute to on-pitch performance

     
  • Tobias

    excellent summary of fergie’s management style

     
  • swisssteve

    What a complete load of non information. As a CIO I cannot believe how naive this person is and how tenuous the association with a football team manager for most CIO’s would be. Imagine Sir Alex, for example having to deal with his entire team being taken over and kicking own goals (by hackers), or the goalposts continuously moving and people continuously shifting to the opposition and back throughout the game. Or the game of football being replaced by cricket just before it begins.

    Then you are talking CIO’s world.

    Stop dabbling in stuff you have no idea about on a real level, young lady.

     
    • Well, it was intended to be provocative, and, my, that certainly
      was a reaction! I think Sir Alex did have to deal with his entire team and club being taken over – by the Glazer brothers and his ability to deal with board, press and other stakeholders was part of his effectiveness as a manager. Certainly there were own goals, too, although I agree, physically-moving goal posts is a stretch too far… My point remains that with leadership being billed as a priority for CIOs, it’s useful for the entire C-suite to look at leaders who have been exceptional in their field. Without for one minute imagining the job is the same, I invite you to consider what useful insights can be gained…

       
    • DMayer

      Your comment is a little bit close minded, if you look at how football has changed over the last 26 year, that Sir Alex has been in change at Manchester United, then you will see that to stay on top, he had to keep his team progressing and keep the club moving forward as a whole. I think you are looking at this article the wrong way.

      Sir Alex was the best in his field, you should try being the best in yours and the article is giving you strengths of Sir Alex’s that you could mold and use for
      yourself and in your industry. He has had lots of teams come and try take over top spot in the Premier league namely Blackburn(who 4 years after winning the league were relegated), Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and even Liverpool, but every time he triumphs and his team triumphs.

       
  • Well, it was intended to be provocative, and, my, that certainly
    was a reaction! I think Sir Alex did
    have to deal with his entire team and club being taken over – by the Glazer
    brothers and his ability to deal with board, press and other stakeholders was
    part of his effectiveness as a manager. Certainly there were own goals, too,
    although I agree, physically-moving goal posts is a stretch too far… My point
    remains that with leadership being billed as a priority for CIOs, it’s useful for
    the entire C-suite to look at leaders who have been exceptional in their field.
    Without for one minute imagining the job is the same, there can be useful insights
    to be gained…

     
  • AndrewPain

    Ensure that your team members are fully committed to the cause. If anyone on your team isn’t committed and it’s clear that they won’t commit, don’t be afraid to get rid – even if that individual is a superstar.