Sir Alex Ferguson’s Unique Interpretation of Success

Most of us congratulate our team when they win, right? What’s interesting is that many successful leaders adopt an an alternative approach. One example of this was Sir Alex Ferguson’s response when his Aberdeen team won the Scottish Cup. Did he congratulate them?

Most of us congratulate our team when they win, right? What’s interesting is that many successful leaders adopt an an alternative approach. One example of this was Sir Alex Ferguson’s response when his Aberdeen team won the Scottish Cup. Did he congratulate them?

Creating a Culture of Dissatisfaction

Aberdeen, who were a relatively small team in Scotland, managed to break up the duopoly of Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic. No mean feat at the time. And, to put this into perspective, few teams outside Glasgow have won the league since then.
Aberdeen had performed well in the league that season, and retained the Scottish Cup with a 1–0 win over Rangers.
Most managers would have done three things:

  1. Congratulate their backroom staff. Those that never get attention.
  2. Deflect the glory to others. Say it was really the players efforts.
  3. Remind them that they need to sustain it for next year.

All common sense approaches.
But Ferguson was not happy with his team’s play in that match. Actually, he was livid. He was described the win as a “disgraceful performance” in a televised interview after the match.
Ferguson worked very hard to avoid any complacency entering into the team. Despite their best efforts, he demanded more.

Using Success as a Benchmark

Think about this for a second. Most of us would revel in the moment, slap the team on the back, and back in the warm glow of success. Especially when you consider how hard it was for the team at the time.
Later Ferguson retracted his comments. But, he’d made his point. He wasn’t satisfied with this result. He wanted to create a culture where they players were never satisfied with today’s results but say them as a springboard for future success.
It’s a risky strategy.
Do you think it works?