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Leading summary

Alex Ferguson, Michael Moritz

Timeless lessons from the greatest manager of all time

4.3 (34 ratings)
11 mins

Brief summary

'Leading' by Alex Ferguson and Michael Moritz is a management guide that shares the strategies used by the legendary Manchester United coach to build winning teams. Drawing on his experience and insights, the book provides valuable advice for leaders in all fields.

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    Coaches must constantly listen and observe.

    We’ve got two ears and two eyes – but just one mouth. Is it a coincidence, or should we be listening and observing twice as much as we talk?

    The truth is that listening always pays off. It is a great opportunity to learn new and useful things – coach Alex Ferguson can attest to this. Ferguson knows the value of listening and knows it well. Just by listening, he picked up some tips and tricks that have served him for a lifetime.

    For example, Notts County manager Jimmy Sirrel once mentioned to Ferguson that he was always careful to make sure that player’s contracts never expired around the same time. This helped prevent collusion against the manager and the club. Ferguson has kept that gem of wisdom to this day.

    Like listening, learning to observe well will also give you an edge. This is something Ferguson discovered when his assistant manager Archie Knox suggested that, rather than running his training sessions, he should sit back and watch them.

    This turned out to be a turning point in Ferguson’s coaching career. When coaching right alongside his players, Ferguson’s focus would be on the ball. By stepping back and observing his players train from a distance, the details of their performance were less visible. However, the overall patterns of their behavior, attitudes and energy levels suddenly became clear.

    Still, focusing on the details can be helpful, too. As the saying goes: know your enemy. Ferguson developed a system of closely watching and analyzing footage of opposing teams before a match.

    This strategy is what helped Ferguson’s team win the 1999 Champions League Final against Bayern Munich. Based on the analysis and information he’d gleaned from the footage, he was able to predict Munich’s two substitutions late in the game. He zoomed in on the details and zoomed out to the broader picture, demonstrating that flexible observational skills are indispensable for any manager.

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    What is Leading about?

    In Leading (2015), one of the world’s most celebrated soccer coaches shares lessons he learned about teamwork, leadership and incredible athletic performance. His observations and experiences provide timeless insights into success in the sporting world and beyond.

    Leading Review

    Leading (2015) is a book that provides valuable insights from the legendary football manager, Alex Ferguson. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • It offers a fascinating behind-the-scenes look at the key principles and strategies that made Ferguson one of the most successful managers in history.
    • Packed with real-life anecdotes and examples from Ferguson's career, it provides practical lessons and inspiration for leadership in any field.
    • The book explores the importance of teamwork, communication, and resilience, offering valuable lessons not only for football managers but also for anyone in a leadership position.

    Who should read Leading?

    • Anyone interested in Manchester United’s success under Ferguson
    • Team leaders, managers and coaches curious about Ferguson’s leadership style
    • Anyone interested in how to maintain success

    About the Author

    Sir Alex Ferguson is the former manager of British soccer team Manchester United. He is considered the most successful British manager of all time, having won 49 trophies, including titles from the FA Cup, the Premier League and the Champions League. Today, Ferguson is a fellow of the Executive Education program at Harvard Business School.

    Michael Moritz is a venture capitalist and the author of The Little Kingdom.

    © Image Sir Alex Ferguson: Flickr (Nathan Congleton)

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    Leading FAQs 

    What is the main message of Leading?

    The main message of Leading is that effective leadership requires adaptability, empathy, and lifelong learning.

    How long does it take to read Leading?

    The reading time for Leading varies depending on the reader's speed, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Leading a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Leading is a valuable read for anyone interested in leadership. It offers insights from renowned leaders and practical strategies for successful leadership.

    Who is the author of Leading?

    The author of Leading is Alex Ferguson and Michael Moritz.

    What to read after Leading?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Leading, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • Superintelligence by Nick Bostrom
    • Beautiful Game Theory by Ignacio Palacios-Huerta
    • Good Leaders Ask Great Questions by John C. Maxwell
    • Understanding Power by Noam Chomsky
    • Visual Thinking by Temple Grandin
    • The Leader In You by Dale Carnegie