Manchester United: Leadership, Teamwork, Success

Just about anywhere you look you can find individuals who have helped lead teams to great success. There are probably many individuals you can think of right now leading and helping teams function at their peak performance. Sir Alex is one of those individuals who has been able to help individuals hone their team skills to create an unstoppable force that is admired and appreciated by many.

Background

The Premier League in England is one of the most well respected football (soccer) leagues in the world. Manchester United, a club within the Premier League is the most successful club in the Leagues history. Sir Alex has led Manchester United in winning the league title nine times: 1993, 1994, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2003, 2007.

With careful reflection, there are things that can be learned from any team that has a great track record and performance. Here are three take-aways from Sir Alex Ferguson and Manchester United:

1. Embrace Change

Embracing change is hard for many people, yet change is the only constant in the world today. Change brings uncertainty. It often requires trust, commitment, and flexibility from all team members. During the past 15 seasons in the Premier League, Manchester United has used approximately 115 different players to accomplish their success. That’s a lot of change! Even if your team experiences constant change like mergers, turnover, etc, it can still consistently perform at championship levels with a little bit of adaptability from team members and some great leadership. Leaders are the catalyst for helping team members challenge the status quo and confront subsequent changes.

2. Make The Effort To Develop Talent

Manchester United and Sir Alex Ferguson sought out high quality talent such as Eric Cantona, Ryan Giggs, and Peter Schmeical. While these individuals were highly capable, they were able to further develop and refine their skills within the team’s structure and approach. Even more important was Ferguson’s ability to recognize promise in young talent from the youth and reserve teams. Ferguson was often criticized from experts who often commented “you never win anything with kids.” A few of these “kids” include the likes of David Beckham, Nicky Butt, and Phil Neville. A keen eye for new talent and helping new talent refine their skills is a lost art. All too often, we wait for individuals to come along that already posses the skill sets we need.

3. Creating A Culture for Winning

Creating a culture inside your organization requires more than simply asking your team members to communicate, work together, or function in a specific way. You also have to instill an image, purpose, and meaning that helps drive your team to function in its own unique way. Alex once said, “We score (points) – It’s an attitude we have.” Ryan Giggs, a well known team member commented, “We were expected to play well, we were expected to win!” With consistent effort, a clear target, and a culture where team members strive to be the best – any team can walk away with “wins.”

While these are only a few of the ingredients that can make and team and organization function well, embracing change, developing talent, and creating a culture is a good starting point for any team to take performance to the next level.

“Winning brings out the qualities in people you admire.” – Sir Alex

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About the Author

Chris Stowell

Christopher Stowell is currently serving as CMOE’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing where he works with multi-national organization to develop their people. His special interests lie in coaching teamwork, strategy, e-learning, and assessment design, and delivery. Chris has a special talent in helping companies assess their organizational effectiveness and identifying key issues and opportunities in order to advance their performance and achieve long term results. Additionally, he has extensive experience in designing, coordinating, and facilitating customized adventure based experiential training events for high performance teams.