Friday, June 01, 2007

What makes a great leader?

Anderson (left) and Nani two youngsters on their way to Old Trafford

I remember clearly May 1999 when Manchester United became the first English team to win the treble of English Premiership, FA Cup and European Champions League.

This feat had never been done before and never since. It probably never will be done again.

Needless to say there was great elation around Manchester United.

At the first national press conference after winning the treble, the United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson was asked what he thought of his wonderful unique treble winning team. His reply interested me:

“This team needs to improve” said Sir Alex calmly.

This told me that leadership is about not allowing complacency to creep in – or as someone put it – don’t believe your press cuttings. It told me you must keep the team on its toes and ALWAYS aim for improvement – however good you are.

In business we can, of course, accept what we have and not strive to improve – that is simply a decision we make.

GREAT LEADERSHIP to me is about never being satisfied that you have reached the pinnacle. If you have reached the top then aim for improvement on that.

So here we are in 2007 and it feels to me a bit like deja vu.

Manchester United have just won the Premiership title and already Sir Alex has added 2 new young players at a combined cost of £30 million and it is expected that Owen Hargreaves will join Manchester United next week at a cost of £17 million. There is talk of at least one more major signing. That means approaching £50 million expenditure already on a team that has just proved itself the best team in England. That tells me a lot about Sir Alex and leadership.

In addition the Youth team at Manchester United have just completed a highly successful season losing narrowly in the FA Youth Cup final. So the future looks bright too with home grown players.

All this tells me Sir Alex at 65 years of age is as passionate as ever about building the Manchester United dynasty through investing in young players thus ensuring that his passion will carry on long after the big man finally retires.

What a leader!!

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