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The Hair Dryer Treatment: Management Lessons From Football

A few years ago a recently retired Sir Alex Ferguson embarked on a series of business talks to share his lessons on leadership and management.

It was a curious moment.

Here was the working-class Govan boy, a titan of British football, lecturing the City’s top executives on how to run their business and manage their staff. 

Ferguson had long cultivated an uncompromising and confrontational public persona. It was perhaps then surprising to hear of his softer man-management methods – the ‘arm around the shoulder’ moments – that were equally as important, though less headline-worthy, as his fabled hair-dryer treatment. 

Now, don’t laugh, but footballers are complex – just like you and your staff. With mental health so often in the headlines these days, it’s important to remember that we’re all wired differently. This recognition was essential to Ferguson’s enduring management success and evident in innumerable anecdotes. 

His successful management technique can be boiled down to three key principles:

  1. The best managers are good listeners and go the extra mile to understand the people around them.
  2. The best managers set out a clear management strategy but, at the same time, know when and how to adjust their methods.
  3. The best managers build a bond of trust and loyalty between them and their staff.

If we take a look at today’s A-list cast of Premier League managers, there’s an array of contrasting styles and methods at play, but all of them adhere to these principles. If you look at the best business managers, they will too.

This is all at risk of making management sound incredibly simple. 

The truth is, just like developing your business brand and identity, you have to find a style that chimes with your personality. Don’t try and be something you’re not. Weave your own quirks and eccentricities around the core principles, and learn from your mistakes.

We’ve identified some useful articles to help you reach management perfection, or at least something close to that. That ‘Best Boss Ever’ mug will be yours. 

 

“I’d rather have a hole than an a**hole”

The words of Dan Jacobs, Head of Talent at Apple. Eloquently put, and not entirely untrue. It’s better to take your time and hire the right person – someone who will complement your vision.

How do I recruit my workforce?

 

“I’m basically a chilled out entertainer…”

Is there a difference between management and leadership? In short, yes. Understanding the relationship between the two is key to getting the best out of your staff and ultimately your business.   

How do I manage my workforce effectively?

 

“If you look after your staff, they’ll look after your business”

Staff turnover is expensive so you want to avoid it at all costs. While you can’t take your employees prisoner you can do some pretty simple things to keep them happy and stop them looking to pastures new. 

How do I retain my staff?

 

 

Huw Moxon is the Digital Marketing Manager for Informi

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