Chief Influence Officer
Helping You Learn to Hear “Yes”.
Ferguson: Persuasion Secrets of
In May 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson or SAF as he’s
otherwise known as, stepped down as manager of Manchester United. He had just won his 13th Premiership title,
the most successful and highly decorated manager in English football. This ended his 26th season in charge of one
of the biggest sporting franchises in the world.
titles including two UEFA champions league trophies. Ferguson took control of
the club at a time when player status was more important than winning titles,
over the course of four seasons and under severe pressure to deliver, he
transformed the club from the inside out.
He employed countless talent scouts to find the best youth players at
grassroots level and developed an academy that produced one of the most
successful teams in English football history.
Every season a major development was installed inside the club that
cemented United’s ability to find and retain the best playing staff. Ferguson was well known for having his finger
on the pulse in every area of the club.
Only Matt Busby, a legendary former United manager had any such
influence across the entire club.
psychologically influence the players around him and rival managers. Ferguson believed that the key to success was
to make sure that every player put in 100% during training. He never allowed a bad training session as
this proved a player would find mediocrity acceptable, he knew bad habits form
quickly. He ensured that every player
who under-performed at half time became aware of their poor performances thus
the legendary motivational skills reared itself in the dressing room.
Ferguson was the master of the ‘second game’, sing the media to motivate his
team and to begin, as he put it, ‘to play the next game before it starts’.
the authority figure. If a player tried
to take over the dressing room or put in a poor performance he was either
swiftly removed from the club or was given a severe face-to-face screaming
which had become known as the hairdryer treatment. His authority was without question embedded
into the organization. Over the course of his 26 season reign he made difficult
choices and this came in the form of releasing established world class players
such as Roy Keane, Jaap Stam and David Beckham to make room for untested
younger players such as Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo who became medal
winners at United.
liked and respected. He was treated
respectfully by senior management and back-room support staff and reciprocated
respect by demonstrating fairness and his ability to empathize. These skills were tested during the season of
1995-96 when maverick player Eric Cantona attacked an opposition supporter
Kung-Fu style and consequently given a heavy suspension lasting several
months. Over the course of this period,
Ferguson mentally coached Cantona, firstly to retain his services and secondly
to mentally motivate and prepare the player for his return. Subsequently, Cantona blossomed to become a
model player and became club captain helping United secure more silverware.
motivating players culminated in United’s first UEFA Champions league title in
1999. They faced a tough fixture against
Germany’s Bayern Munich. At half-time
United were trailing, he reminded his players that if they lost the match they
would not as much be allowed to touch the trophy, just amble past at a safe
distance wearing their losers medal. One
of the players later recalled that Ferguson’s inspirational speech turned
fearful men into world-beaters. During
that same season, United became the first side from a major league to win the
treble of Champions league, English Premier league and League cup in a single
consistent. One of his key skills in improving the preparedness of his players
was his use of story telling and being to talk to each player
individually. He liked to change the
themes of his team talks with regularity.
“I once heard a coach start with ‘this must be the 1000th team talk I’ve
had with you’ and saw a player quickly respond with ‘and I’ve slept through
half of them!’ If a player was to sit
out a game, he gave a personal and very frank conversation that conveyed
empathy and instilled confidence in the player.
confidence on the training pitch. “There
is no room for criticism on the training field’. ‘There is nothing better than hearing ‘well-done.”
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