The Scottish football manager Sir Alex Ferguson who was born in Glasgow on December 31, 1941. Many people regard him as the greatest manager in modern football. However, he went through different stages before becoming the well-known and famous manager of Manchester United. He began his career as an amateur player for Queen's Park Rangers, while also working as an apprentice in a shipyard and representing a trade union. He then turned professional in 1964, joining Durfemline and then Rangers FC, where he was a success. He had a low point in his professional career when he left Rangers FC; he joined two teams later but was not as successful. (Ferguson, A. (2011))
Manchester United was going through a difficult period when Alex Ferguson joined the club. Many of the players were in poor physical health, and some of them drank heavily. Despite the fact that he was able to get them back in shape, he was unable to win a trophy for more than six seasons. His performance disappointed the fans, but the top managers agreed to retain him. This decision paid off when he led Manchester United to the Premier League title, and it was the beginning of his legacy as a Manchester United manager. From then on, Alex Ferguson led them to victory after victory, and he went on to become the hero that he is today. (Ferguson, A., & Moritz, M. (2015))
Sir Alex Ferguson's style of leadership will be examined and analysed in this case study. It will begin by examining various management styles in order to identify those that are similar to Alex Ferguson's. Then it will look at how these leadership styles can be used to develop Alex Ferguson's style. The case study would also attempt to clarify why Alex Ferguson's management style is the way it is. Finally, it will examine whether or not doing anything differently would have resulted in Alex being as good as he is now. But first, the case study will identify the leadership scope in which it will be operating.
The traits of Leadership is described as the ability to bring people together and rally their resources around a single goal. It is usually the product of an explicit or implied formal or informal election in which the majority of the group's members consider one of them as the rightful leader and transfer decision-making power to that individual.
Peter Drucker a well-known American management theorist, asserts that a leader must constantly consider and identify the missions and goals of organization. He also believes that no one can be a leader unless he or she has faith in his or her team and is responsible for encouraging them to develop. (For the twenty-first century, see “Definition Leadership.”)
All skills of leadership are linked to the triumvirate (Task, Team, Individual) and the relationship between those three, according to John Adair, a theorist and British academic of leadership. Furthermore, he believes that there is no single style of leadership, that all future leaders will be confronted with a variety of circumstances on a regular basis, and that strategizing is a priceless added benefit.
Following an examination of leadership theories and these concepts of leadership from many authorities, many of them seem to be candidates to fit Alex Ferguson's leadership style. Great Man, Contingency, Situation Theory, and Trait Theory, Goal, and Behavior are some of these theories.
It was founded in the mid-nineteenth century by Thomas Carlyle. According to this theory, leadership abilities are inherent rather than learned or created, and that people are born natural leaders. As a result, there is a character of inheritance. The theory also emphasises the idea that leaders emerge when they are expected to lead others. (Leadership Approaches)
The Great Man theory was the foundation for the Traits theory. It looked at influential and unsuccessful leaders throughout history and identified characteristics that they all have in common. “Drive, ability to lead, honesty and dignity, intellect, job-relevant information, and extraversion” were the categories used to classify the findings (Sidanim, Jamali, Robbins & Coulter).
This theory stresses the idea that a leader's responsibility is to help his employees achieve their objectives while also ensuring that their goals are in line with the company.
Theory of behaviour:
In relation to the Great Man theory, the Behavioral theory suggests that leaders are created rather than born. The theory's core concept is that a leader's style is defined by what he or she does rather than by personal characteristics (Leadership Style). Three leadership styles are described by behavioural theory: autocratic, democratic, and laissez-faire. Democratic decision-making entails including workers and other members of the team in the process and taking their input into account. The term "autocratic" refers to a one-man rule. The leader gives orders, assigns assignments, and establishes rules; other members' involvement is limited, if not non-existent. The laissez-faire approach allows workers to make their own decisions and complete their assignments in their own way. (Ferguson, A. (2013))
We may exclude three theories from the list above because they do not match Alex Ferguson's style. Contingency, Great Man theory and Situation theory, and Path Goal theory are three of these theories. The reasons for each of them not matching Alex Ferguson's style are mentioned below.
Since Ferguson maintained the same management style in each team he led, the Contingency and Situational theory does not fit his style. His quote "My Way or the Highway" exemplifies this point.
After excluding the above hypotheses, we are left with only two theories that fit Alex Ferguson's leadership style fully or partially. Behavioral and trait theories are the two theories in question.
Even though it depends on the Great Man principle, the Traits theory partially suits Alex Ferguson's leadership style for three reasons. First and foremost, Alex Ferguson is self-assured; he has always trusted in his leadership style and has implemented it in any team he has led.
Third, he has the characteristic of "honesty and dignity," as he has always been forthright towards his players and staff, and he has followed the guidelines he wishes his players to follow. In 2011, he was also awarded the FIFA Presidential Award for his outstanding conduct.
Another part of his autocratic leadership style is moving players around to improve team mechanics without anyone objecting. The autocratic style's final feature is his mind game with other bosses, in which he attempts to bully them by making derogatory remarks.
Now that two hypotheses have been proposed to explain Ferguson's leadership style, it is better to search for ways to strengthen Ferguson's style of leadership. It's difficult to do so because it's difficult to find inconsistencies in a system that's worked for 38 years. However, it was discovered during the study that some of the players lacked motivation or that their motivation faded with time. As a result, using the democratic style from behavioural theory will keep the players involved, while the manager will get input about what he is doing and will be able to address internal team issues. He will also provide information about his decision, which will aid some players in breaking through the fog and better understanding what he is doing, especially when a player has a Sword of Damocles on them. The road target theory is the second theory that could help keep the player motivated. It would be beneficial to use because it is more concerned with the player's goals and will work with him to achieve them. As a result, he will be constantly inspired in working harder.
Examining Alex Ferguson's leadership style and how he can change it led to an investigation into why he chose to be this form of leader. Since he started early and had some issues in relation to respect from some players because he was not much old or even younger than them, he developed an authoritative style. Another explanation may be that his job as a Trade Union leader in his early twenties required him to direct and protect all of the employees in front of the shipyard's managers. This experience greatly aided him in developing a tough and self-assured personality. It also helped him understand what a culture is and how important it is to have one within a community of people. Another benefit of his union membership is the creation of a sense of solidarity, as shown by his statement that "no one is above the team." Being in an all-male setting enforced some kind of strict rules to ensure that the player respected the squad.
Understanding the reason Alex Ferguson built his leadership in the manner mentioned above raises the question of whether he could have done better if he had chosen a different path. This is a difficult question to answer since his system never failed him throughout his career and always proved him correct. However, it wouldn't hurt to try to answer this question. There is only one situation in which we should equate him to another boss in order to do so. Arsene Wenger is this manager; he is the only one who has spent a significant amount of time leading a team and is still doing so. When we look at the years 2000 to 2010, we can see that Ferguson won more titles than Wenger. They don't have the same money, one could argue.
There is no question about Alex Ferguson's excellence after reading this case study's examination of his leadership style. Everywhere he goes, he was able to enforce his way of doing stuff. He was able to partly combine two incompatible leadership philosophies into a single one, resulting in his own management style. His life experiences influenced his leadership style significantly. In reality, becoming a member of a trade union and beginning as a young manager were crucial in developing his style of leadership. Finally, as shown by the case study, doing it differently would not have made a significant difference in his career.
Ferguson, A. (2013). ALEX FERGUSON My Autobiography: The autobiography of the legendary Manchester United manager. Hodder & Stoughton.
Ferguson, A., & Moritz, M. (2015). Leading: Learning from life and my years at Manchester United. Hachette Books.
Ferguson, A. (2011). Managing My Life: My Autobiography: The first book by the legendary Manchester United manager. Hodder & Stoughton.
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