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Leading: Lessons in leadership from the…
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Leading: Lessons in leadership from the legendary Manchester United manager (edition 2015)

by Sir Alex Ferguson (Author)

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1935141,468 (4.23)None
After an astonishing career-first in Scotland, and then over 27 years with Manchester United Football Club- Sir Alex Ferguson delivers Leading, in which the greatest soccer coach of all time will analyze the pivotal leadership decisions of his 38 years as a manager and, with his friend and collaborator Sir Michael Moritz, draw out lessons anyone can use in business and life to generate long-term transformational success. From hiring practices to firing decisions, from dealing with transition to teamwork, from mastering the boardroom to responding to failure and adversity, Leading is as inspiring as it is practical, and a go-to reference for any leader in business, sports, and life.… (more)
Member:Tallyfox
Title:Leading: Lessons in leadership from the legendary Manchester United manager
Authors:Sir Alex Ferguson (Author)
Info:Hodder & Stoughton (2015), Edition: 01, 406 pages
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Leading: Learning from Life and My Years at Manchester United by Alex Ferguson

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An interesting read, though more for Manchester United fans than for those looking to study principles of leadership. As a Salford lad who was fortunate (with regards to football, at least) to come of age during the time Sir Alex Ferguson was winning everything with the club, it was good to take a trip down memory lane and to be reminded of players and matches I had not thought about in a long time.

Ferguson's book is not an entirely candid, let alone forensic, accounting of his tenure at United, and it limits the lessons of the book when the writer plays some cards very close to his chest. If you weren't a fan of the club, you would never know, from reading Leading, that Fergie and Roy Keane had such a bitter end to their relationship. Furthermore, the sensitive matter of the Rock of Gibraltar racehorse would have been discussed in a more courageous book, as a worrisome example of the divides that can be caused between managers and owners when side-business interests are allowed to fester, but here there is not a single mention.

Ferguson, commendably, does not throw players under the bus after the fact (regarding the two Champions League final losses to Barcelona in 2009 and 2011, he says that "two or three players ignored our plans and played their own game" but does not specify who (pg. 73)), but some potentially interesting statements are not expanded upon (he never met Malcolm Glazer in person, for example (pg. 201)). He is reluctant to criticise the Moyes transition (though some of the more abstract statements about new leaders "eager to stamp their imprint on everything" (pg. 323) and "display their manhood" by changing players' routines (pg. 326) could be seen as pointed, if anonymous, criticisms of that fiasco). Of the Jaap Stam sale, he has the following equivocating summary: "It was the right decision for United, even though Jaap continued to play well for several years after he left Old Trafford and, in retrospect, his sale was premature" (pg. 90).

In general, though, Ferguson gets the balance right in this retrospective of his career. Certainly he had more successes than failures and it's natural that Leading would focus on them, and be reluctant to dissect the more painful of the failures. Ferguson was at the top of the tree for more than two decades in one of the most competitive, high-stakes sports in the world, and there's value in listening to his impressions of that time. He cuts loose on owners and agents and, on a happier note, he was right, eventually, that Ole Solskjaer's managerial talent was "bound to be recognised by a more appreciative owner" (pg. 234). And it's good to know that he remembers the appropriately-named Cüneyt Çakir, right down to the use of cedilla and umlaut.

For the United fan, then, the book is worthwhile, but for principles of leadership it is harder to say. Ferguson's co-writer, Michael Moritz, writes in the (over-long) epilogue that it is "easy to make too many trite analogies" (pg. 352) between sport and the world of business and, despite one or two clumsy mentions of Kim Philby or the Cuban Missile Crisis, for the most part Leading avoids this triteness. There's certainly none of the grift or hustle that usually accompanies books about how to lead or inspire or suchlike. Ferguson writes that he doesn't "pretend for a moment" that the lessons he learned in his career "can be easily transplanted elsewhere, but I hope that readers will find some ideas or suggestions that can be emulated or modified for their own use" (pg. 5).

It's always good to think critically about one's own approach and level of professionalism, whatever your role or circumstances, and Leading can induce that. Much of the advice might seem obvious – and much of the anecdotal colour only of interest to a United fan – but there is a lesson to be learned from the fact that such a successful man can be driven by such simple and uncompromising principles. ( )
  MikeFutcher | Jun 4, 2020 |
Even though I am not a manutd fan, this is still a truly inspiratonal book written for all football fans by SAF. ( )
  Wendy_Wang | Sep 28, 2019 |
Even though I am not a manutd fan, this is still a truly inspiratonal book written for all football fans by SAF. ( )
  Jason.Ong.Wicky | Oct 9, 2018 |
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After an astonishing career-first in Scotland, and then over 27 years with Manchester United Football Club- Sir Alex Ferguson delivers Leading, in which the greatest soccer coach of all time will analyze the pivotal leadership decisions of his 38 years as a manager and, with his friend and collaborator Sir Michael Moritz, draw out lessons anyone can use in business and life to generate long-term transformational success. From hiring practices to firing decisions, from dealing with transition to teamwork, from mastering the boardroom to responding to failure and adversity, Leading is as inspiring as it is practical, and a go-to reference for any leader in business, sports, and life.

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