Sir Alex leads the way

first_imgSir Alex Ferguson, manager of iconic Manchester United, is arguably the most successful manager in the history of professional soccer. So why not write a Harvard Business School (HBS) case on his leadership style?“It’s just a dream to be able to understand the drivers of his success,” said HBS Professor Anita Elberse of the source of her inspiration. The case was fascinating, and then came the visit.One day earlier this fall, Ferguson arrived at HBS to help teach the class.Ferguson has led Manchester United — one of the world’s biggest sports franchises — for the past 26 years. Last year, Elberse and case study co-author Tom Dye traveled to Manchester, England, to see Ferguson in action. They conducted comprehensive interviews and meetings with the Scottish manager, past and present players, and club staff members.Their findings offer fresh insights into Ferguson’s storied career and his approach to leadership, particularly his ability to foster a culture of success and dedication throughout the organization, from the team’s elite players to the workers who take care of Manchester United’s famous stadium and field.“If someone knocks on his door and they have a problem, the first thing he does is turn the chair around and say, ‘Sit down, let’s talk,’ ” Ferguson’s longtime secretary Lyn Laffin says in the case.In addition to using their detailed research to outline many of Ferguson’s core philosophies, the case’s authors went a step further. Once their work was complete, Elberse and Dye invited Ferguson to Harvard.“I can try to capture his thinking in a case, but that is only words on paper,” said Elberse, who frequently uses examples from the media, entertainment, and sports industries as the basis for her case studies. “To have him there, and for students to be able to see him in action, see how he addresses a group, and see snippets of his personality, there’s no replacement for that live experience.”“When you’re approached by an institution like Harvard, you know you are dealing with top quality,” said Ferguson. “I had to consider that I was opening myself up to something I’ve never done before. But at this stage of my life, I felt that if I’m helping young people progress through their own routes to management, then ultimately that was an important and compelling factor for me.”The Ferguson report differs from many typical HBS cases that analyze a particular scenario faced by an organization, or a key decision made by a company’s director or chief executive, explained Elberse. Instead, it explores Ferguson’s body of work, his leadership skills, and the keys to his sustained success.“I wanted students to examine his philosophy to the management of the club,” she said, “season by season, and game by game, so that they could distill the major lessons and his formula for success.”One key lesson is Ferguson’s fine-tuned ability to relate to people. He connects with his wealthy players, but he brings that intense engagement to all of his interactions. That was true during his visit to Harvard. Standing in the middle of a room in Aldrich Hall, he expanded on students’ observations about the case, answered a storm of questions, and even had a little fun with a Bayern Munich supporter in attendance. (Manchester United famously beat the German soccer club in 1999, coming back from a goal down to win 2-1 in extra time during the UEFA Champions League final.)In a departure from the standard HBS class that typically allots guests 20 minutes, Elberse turned over half of two 80-minute discussions to Ferguson to maximize his time. Many students arrived for the crowded classes wearing Manchester United jerseys. They also came prepared.“The whole atmosphere was professional,” said Ferguson. “It was clear that they had done their homework. That was the important thing. They had properly read the case study and supplemented that with their own opinions and research. … That gave me a certain assurance that I had made the right decision to go ahead with the case.”“The process was excellent, enjoyable, and comfortable,” he added. “I never felt intimidated in any way, and I never felt reluctant to be anything other than completely open.”The wide-ranging discussions touched on such topics as Ferguson’s expansion of the club’s youth system, his willingness to invest in top talent from other clubs, and the nature of his management style.HBS student and soccer enthusiast Folafolu Folowosele was thrilled to interact with and learn from a legend. Hearing how Ferguson “motivates his players, creates a culture around his team, and gets key influencers within his team to be the ones to drive that winning culture through … these are the lessons we can actually take in our business careers going forward,” Folowosele said.But the students weren’t the only ones learning lessons. Ferguson said it was enlightening to hear his career discussed and explored in such depth and detail.“The part of the discussion from which I learned the most about myself was when they were discussing the balance between ‘fear’ and ‘love’ in my approach to managing people. If you look at my history, there’s all this hype about hair dryers and anger and so on. But the students acknowledged another side to it, which is more apt in terms of how I have fostered relations with people and developed the team over the years. The reality is not always how the press portray it. I felt the students were quite accurate in terms of how they analyzed this aspect, questioning and recognizing this important dynamic of management.“The key element for me was Anita, and how she controlled the room. I am always talking about ‘control.’ She controlled that room. She was the boss. I thought that was very impressive, plus the fact that she has a certain humility about her; she’s quite down-to-earth.”Ferguson also connected with other students and soccer fans while at Harvard. During a visit in September to prepare for the HBS case discussions, he met with Harvard men’s head soccer coach Carl Junot.“He was entertaining and engaging,” recalled Junot, who said Ferguson put him immediately at ease and offered to meet the team. “It was so unanticipated. They were expecting me to come in and give them the practice plan as usual, and in walks Alex Ferguson. They were blown away.”In October, Ferguson set aside time for members of the HBS soccer club. Similar to Elberse’s classes earlier in the day, the more informal afternoon gathering was filled with students sporting Manchester United shirts. Club president John Hillman wore a jersey with the name Giggs printed on the back in honor of the team’s famous Welsh star.Like Junot, Hillman was struck by Ferguson’s easygoing style. “He was amazingly laid-back and down-to-earth.  … I could just tell that he was being very thoughtful, and was very interested in what I was saying.”One of guests sitting in on a case discussion with Ferguson was a soccer star herself. Heather O’Reilly, a key player on the U.S. women’s soccer team that won the gold medal during the London Olympics and a longtime Manchester United fan, called the experience “an honor.”“He’s the best of the best,” said O’Reilly.last_img read more

Brazil Creates an Anti-Piracy Force Following Attacks on the Amazonas River

first_img Brazilian authorities have created an anti-piracy unit targeting attacks on the Amazonas River in the northern state of Pará. The unit will begin to operate in June in the strategic area of Belém’s Guajará Bay and will enable the security forces to respond to these criminal actions more quickly. The unit is composed of eight vessels and fifty police officers, according to the daily The Guardian. This unit became public knowledge after the most recent attack last week, in which eleven heavily armed robbers assaulted a passenger ship en route to the city of Belém. Joao Bosco Rodrigues, head of the specialist police division in Pará, affirmed that the unit is another tool with which to “combat and prevent” pirate activity in the Amazon region. “This group will be there to react to any kind of demand on our rivers,” he declared to the British daily. Witnesses to the most recent attack affirmed that the robbers traveled in small motorboats, firing into the air. Once on board, they threatened to shoot the 140 passengers, who included adults and children. “They humiliated everybody,” passenger Artur Cesar affirmed to the Diário do Pará [Pará Daily]. “They put guns to the children’s heads and even said they would cut the fingers off those who didn’t hand over their rings. There were pistols, revolvers, lots of weapons.” Benivaldo Carvalho said that he was struck on the head by the pirates. “It was two hours of terror, humiliation, and powerlessness. They pointed their guns at us and said they were going to kill us.” The targeting of the Brazilian Amazon by pirates already made headlines in 2001 with the murder of Sir Peter Blake, a famous sailor and ecologist who was shot by a gang known as ‘the water rats.’ In March of this year, a young sailor was murdered when two boatloads of pirates boarded his vessel. By Dialogo June 22, 2011last_img read more

England’s James Anderson ruled out of remaining Ashes series

first_imgENGLAND’S leading Test wicket-taker James Anderson will play no further part in the Ashes against Australia after a recurrence of a calf injury.The 37-year-old Lancashire seamer bowled only four overs in the first Test and missed the second and third.He felt pain in the calf on Thursday during a four-day friendly for Lancashire second XI.Somerset’s Craig Overton has been named in England’s 13-man squad for the fourth Test at Old Trafford.The Test match – at Anderson’s home ground – starts on September 4, with the five-Test series level at 1-1.England won a thrilling third Test at Headingley by one wicket thanks to Ben Stokes’ remarkable unbeaten 135 – the man who led a juggernautAnderson’s absence means England are likely to name an unchanged pace attack of Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad and Chris Woakes.Anderson suffered a calf injury in a County Championship match against Durham in June but was passed fit for the opening Ashes Test.However, he left the field on the first morning and did not bowl in the remainder of the game, which England lost.Anderson took 2-23 from nine overs for Lancashire second XI in a friendly against Leicestershire on 20 August.He bowled 20 overs against Durham second XI on Tuesday but, after a nine-over spell on Thursday, he was reviewed by the England and Wales Cricket Board medical staff and ruled out of the Ashes.Seamer Overton, 25, has taken seven wickets at an average of 42.28 in three Tests since making his debut in the 2017-18 Ashes in Australia. His most recent appearance was the defeat by New Zealand in Auckland in March 2018.He has 32 wickets at 21.34 apiece in eight County Championship matches this season.Opening batsman Jason Roy keeps his place despite scoring only 57 runs in six innings against Australia.Surrey team-mate Ollie Pope, who was added to the squad as concussion cover for Roy before the third Test, has been overlooked.The final Test at The Oval begins on September 12.England must win the series to regain the Ashes, while Australia, as holders of the urn, need only a series draw to retain them.England squad for fourth Ashes Test against Australia: Joe Root (capt.), Jofra Archer, Jonny Bairstow (wkpr), Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler (wkpr), Sam Curran, Joe Denly, Jack Leach, Craig Overton, Jason Roy, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes. (BBC Sport)last_img read more

Winter Dance Party 2020 kicks off tonight at Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake

first_imgCLEAR LAKE — Thousands of people are converging on Clear Lake for the Winter Dance Party at the Surf Ballroom starting tonight. The three-day event is a celebration of the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and “The Big Bopper” J. P. Richardson, who died along with pilot Roger Peterson in a plane crash near Clear Lake after the three had performed at the Surf Ballroom on February 2nd, 1959. Surf Ballroom director Laurie Lietz says it’s incredible to see the number of people come to Clear Lake every winter for the event.  “There’s about 36 or 40 different states represented and also four foreign countries. The delegation that comes from overseas, this is the place that they come to take their vacation. It really just resonates with us this is an important event to them and it’s just so much fun too, they’ve created a ‘February family’ I think they call themselves. For a lot of people, it’s a place to come and just enjoy the music and enjoy the friendship that they created over the years.”Tonight’s concert features the 60s garage-rock band The Kingsmen, whose big hit was “Louie Louie”; as well as Joey Dee; Little Peggy March; and Austin Allsup, the son of the late Tommy Allsup, the last surviving member of Holly’s Crickets from the Winter Dance Party. Friday night features two performers from doo-wop group Sha Na Na as part of the event’s traditional sock hop.  “We’ve got Bowzer’s Rock and Doo-Wop Sock Hop featuring Bowzer and the Stingrays. they’re a fabulous group along with Rocky and the Rollers. We’ve got Johnny Contardo, who was also with Sha Na Na as Bowzer was, and original Comet  Joey Ambrose, so a great Friday night.”Lietz says they’ve recently been turning the corner on their Saturday night concerts to highlight some artists that have been influenced by Holly, Valens and the Bopper.  “This year’s Three Stars Memorial Concert is featuring Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives. He is a rockabilly artist, and before it was rock and roll, it was rockabilly, so really kind of ties into the history of the music itself and kind of how it all started. Big Sandy and His Fly-Rite Boys are also going to be performing on Saturday evening, as are Albert Lee and Headcat 13, along with some special appearances by Narvel Felts, Linda Gail Lewis, and Sonny West.” Lietz says Sonny West has direct connections to Buddy Holly’s career.  “He goes way back in the lineage of the rock and roll music and he wrote Oh Boy and Rave On for Buddy Holly. So he knew Buddy Holly, and he is thrilled. He reached out to us via Facebook and wanted to be part of the event once again, so we’re thrilled to have him come back and be a part of Saturday evening’s show.”Tickets to each night’s concert are available this year or people can still purchase a three-day pass. For more information head to winterdanceparty.surfballroom.comlast_img read more