Following Great Leaders / by John Hailes

There are many good leaders in this world but not many do truly remarkable things and leave a long lasting impression in their field. From my childhood I have held one leader in extremely high regard…Sir Alex Ferguson…for those of you unfamiliar with the name…until a year ago he was the manager of Manchester United football club.


From humble begins he rose to manage one of the greatest clubs in the world for an incredible 26 years. Through this time he won 38 trophies, many records and of course a knighthood. He is regarded as one of the most successful, admired and respected managers in the history of the entire game of football.


This past week I completed reading his autobiography and too fell deeper in admiration for this incredible leader. However, one thing struck me, he wasn’t an easy man to follow. Although many people recognized his greatness and stuck by his side his entire career, there were a number of people who he rubbed up the wrong way. He knew control was key managing a football team, and so he worked hard to keep his. If people didn’t give their best or got distracted he would dock their wages. If football was no longer the first and only priority in a players life…he would get rid of them.


In his autobiography, he spoke of a player called Rio Ferdinand, who was growing in popularity. Magazines, radio and television pursued him to do interviews. One season Rio was offered the chance to travel to America to interview P. Diddy for a magazine but when word got to Ferguson he quickly shut it down. In his mind the opportunity would affect the fitness of the player and that would affect the success of the team in the coming games. To Ferguson, everything was about winning football matches…and if something got in the way of his team doing that…he dealt with it. This however often made him a difficult man to follow.


This of course got me thinking of other leaders and I began to resolve that the greatest leaders are the hardest to follow. Success brings many responsibilities and many sacrifices and so be apart of a successful team is no easy doing.


In a church context I have been privileged to follow many leaders…some of them have been truly great…and I have found similarly that the greatest leaders are often the hardest to follow. Here are a few reasons why:-


Great leaders have a higher standard


Great Leaders don’t please people


Great Leaders act in the interests of the team NOT individuals