Leadership - Fergie's recipe

Sir Alex Ferguson and Gordon Brown Sir Alex Ferguson says he was closer to Brown than Blair

Loyalty, control, discipline. Those are the ingredients of leadership.

So says the man who I once teasingly described as "the greatest living Briton".

Sir Alex Ferguson was launching his new autobiography today. I went along to Fergie's news conference to ask the man known simply as "the boss" whether the qualities that make a great leader on and off the pitch can be transferred to other fields and, in particular, to politics.

What leaders have to do, he told me, was to create loyalty in their staff, transmit their philosophy and exert control and discipline. Leadership, he says, is a quality which allows your personality to transfer to everyone.

Interestingly his book, though largely about football, does include a revelation about his involvement in politics.

He denies a claim made in Tony Blair's memoirs that he had advised the former prime minister to sack Gordon Brown. Ferguson's recollection is that while Blair asked him how to handle superstars and not Brown in particular.

The advice was clear and is a theme of this book - "the minute they threaten your control, you have to get rid of them".

Fergie describes himself as being "on the left" of the Labour party, "closer to Brown (than Blair) in principle" but accepting that "Blair's more populist way was the route to get elected".

Today the questions all focussed on the big footballing names Sir Alex struggled to control or to compete with - Beckham, Keane, Mourinho and the rest.

There are many more I would love to ask about how a leader inspires loyalty, maintains control and instils discipline.

My colleague David Bond's interview with Sir Alex will run soon.

Nick Robinson Article written by Nick Robinson Nick Robinson Political editor

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  • rate this

    Comment number 37.

    The greatest leader that ever lived was 'hands down' the Prophet Muhammad (s) because he left the blue print, his Sunnah ( way), which is like the Ark of Noah, anyone who climbs aboard it is saved anyone who doesn't is lost.

  • rate this

    Comment number 51.

    Anyone looking for a good leader should start by making sure it's man. It's the natural order of things.

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    I think it a little unfair to blame Tony Blair for damaging the economy. In fact it's probably not fair to blame him for anything that happened in this country. It was his chancellor who did the damage

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Sir Alex would wipe the floor with today's tit for tat politics. "They done this so we did that and then they said this so we said that" A bunch of school children. Fergie would have sorted that out if he was in charge. 'What's with all these expenses?' He would of asked. First politician to give him a sorry attempt of an excuse WHACK! Boot to the face!!!!
    There's only one Alex Ferguson.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    I'll be reading this. As the MD of an SME I'm very interested in the philosophy, techniques and experiences of one of the World's most successful team leaders. I'm also a lifelong Man U fan - born in Sale. I suffered in the 70's as City dominated, then again in the 80's when Liverpool won everything in sight. The last 20 years have been red and white. I'm sure that we can all learn from Sir Alex.


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