Last week, Sir Alex Ferguson celebrated his 25th anniversary as the Manager of Manchester United. Many superstars thanked him for the teaching and inspiration. While success of the Club is taken for granted nowadays, it is difficult to imagine that Sir Ferguson spent his first three years struggling without a single trophy. During an interview, the Director revealed that the board of directors actually considered sacking him on at least three occasions for unsatisfactory club performance. Looking back, keeping the manager was one of the wisest decisions in the history of football club management.
On the other hand, I could not help thinking how many people were less fortunate and had their careers cut short before their effort paid off. This is not unique to football fields. The academic arena is no less fierce.
“How should leaders decide then?” I asked my mentor one day. “People should be given opportunities to develop. However, when a person is not productive, it is quite possible that he really does not have potential.”
“You should look at what the person is doing,” he answered. “In contrast, bad leaders only look at results. If you cannot distinguish between the two, you will always pay for results and can never attract talents.”