Alex Ferguson's Contingency Approach In Leadership

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Contingency Leadership

The main idea of the contingency approach in leadership is that leadership effectiveness depends on the interaction of two factors: the leader’s task and the relationship he/she enjoys with his subordinates rather than a pre-existing model one can use to organize his/her organization. Hence, it is interesting to first explore Ferguson’s approach using Fiedler’s Contingency Leadership Model.

Judging by the above model, Ferguson’s leadership situation fell under situation 3. This was because; a football manager essentially needed good leader-member relations, the task of playing football and the training involved were essentially highly unpredictable and tailored according to each player’s needs, and that Ferguson
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He was a leader that focused on getting things done rather than ensuring good relations with his players .

He believed that his main task was to lead Manchester United to victory, and that he would do anything to win. This includes letting go of good players if they were not committed entirely to winning or even players with good relations with him and the club but with a diminishing form, displaying an intense commitment to the task at all costs.

One of Ferguson’s greatest trials came during the English Premier League season of 2004/05 and 2005/06, where Manchester United were consistently trailing behind rivals Chelsea. Then Manchester United Captain and key player, Roy Keane, criticized his younger teammates on the quality of their play and made personal attacks against them. For a club that was built on unity, Roy Keane demonstrated traits that went against the values of the club. Despite Ferguson recognizing Keane as a key player in United’s playing strategy, he made the difficult decision of letting him go .

Motivation Theories

In any organization, be it a company or even a football club, people are affected and driven by various types of
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He gave players the recognition they deserved when they performed well in a game and ensured that their efforts were well rewarded by allowing them to start on the soccer pitch more frequently on games .

As to fulfilling a player’s self-actualization, Ferguson’s approach was rather unique. While he did give players autonomy in negotiating their own salaries etc., he insisted on maintaining absolute control over his players during training and the development of skills. Ferguson frequently adopted an ‘I know best’ approach to the players. Interestingly, the players still had strong respect for him despite the lack of independence he gave them.

Such incidents prove that while Ferguson is effective in motivating his players by achieving the first 4 levels of the Hierarchy of Needs Theory, he is ultimately still effective in fulfilling a player’s self actualization. He is able to ensure players are able to continually develop their skills, albeit under his complete control, and yet allow them to maintain a small amount of autonomy.

Goal Setting Theory (Motive

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