Since I retired as manager of Manchester United in 2013, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about leadership.
Throughout my career I was honing my managerial style and skills. I was focused on identifying and developing young talent, on setting standards, on building organisations that would stand the test of time, on winning.
It wasn’t until later in my career that I realised my experiences were an education in leadership. Over the past two years I’ve been working with Michael Moritz on my new book, Leading. During this process I have not focused on what I achieved, but how I achieved it. Through examining my own history, I have been able to analyse what it takes to be a successful leader.
Leaders have to make tough decisions. They have to be able to communicate. They have to encourage excellence. Although there are plenty of leaders who are household names, you don’t need to be famous to be worthy of the label. Indeed, many of the leaders who affect us most are ones we see every day: they’re our colleagues, coaches, family, and friends. As a football manager, my job was to inspire the people around me. To make them better. This is what all great leaders do, whether they’re running a football club, a company, or a team.
My job was to make everyone understand that the impossible was possible. That’s the difference between leadership and management.
As I reflect on leadership in my life, I want to encourage people to honour the leaders in theirs. What does leadership mean to you? What qualities and characteristics make an extraordinary leader?
If someone in your life—a friend, a boss, a colleague —exemplifies what it means to be a leader, we want to hear their story. We’re looking for the first recipient of the Sir Alex Ferguson Leadership Award, and we need you to shine a light on the UK’s unsung heroes.
Write a long-form post on LinkedIn with the hashtag #SirAlexAward somewhere in the body of the post. Tell us:
- What makes a leader? What are qualities the best leaders share?
- How does your nominee for the Sir Alex Ferguson Leadership Award represent these qualities?
- Tell us about an experience in which this person showed extraordinary leadership.
The winners—both the post’s author and their award nominee—will receive the Sir Alex Ferguson Leadership Award from me at Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, on 21st September, at an intimate gathering before the global launch event for my new book.
I can’t wait to read about some of the UK’s most inspiring leaders.
How to get started: Click on the “Publish a post” button on your homepage, or go here. Please be sure to use the hashtag #SirAlexAward somewhere in the body of your post.
Please publish your posts before 11:59pm BST, 28th August. This contest is open to UK residents only. Read more specifics, rules and regulation here.