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Manchester United's Sir Alex Ferguson on the secret to his success

Sir Alex Ferguson
Scott Mlyn | CNBC
Sir Alex Ferguson

Sir Alex Ferguson is a former Scottish soccer manager and player who managed Manchester United from 1986 to 2013. He is considered to be one of the most admired and successful managers in the history of professional sports.

During his 27 years at the club, Ferguson won 38 trophies, including 13 Premier League titles and two UEFA Champions League titles.

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This week, Ferguson sat down with CNBC's "Power Lunch" to explain the secrets behind his goal-setting career. He recently authored a new book, "Leading," co-written with Sequoia Capital's chairman, Sir Michael Moritz, a venture capitalist renowned throughout Silicon Valley for his early investments in Google, LinkedIn and Yahoo.

From hiring and firing, and responding to adversity and failure, Ferguson and Moritz say the following 10 principles can be a playbook for any leader in sports, business or life.

10 tips that make great leaders

1. Listen: Most people don't use their eyes and ears effectively. As a result they miss half of what's going on around them. There's a reason God gave us two ears, two eyes and one mouth. It's so you can listen and watch twice as much as you talk. Best of all, listening costs you nothing.

2. Value discipline: Once you bid farewell to discipline you say goodbye to success and set the stage for anarchy. Weed out players who are disruptive or undermine unity, even if they are individually talented.

3. Be present: Leaders underestimate just how important their presence can be.

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4. Recognize hunger: For years, I've tried to fathom why some people possess greater drive than others. I'm not closer to solving that riddle, but I learned how to harness that power. If I had to pick between work ethic or talent as the most potent fuel, it would be the former.

5. Focus on the pipeline: When you run any organization, you have to look as far down the road as far you can and create a conveyor belt of talent. Gradually move older players out and younger players in. It's always easier to produce a consistent level of high performance when you nourish youngsters. They can inject fantastic spirit and will repay you back with loyalty. Once they know you are batting for them, they will accept your way.

6. Command respect: You can't aspire to be loved, because that isn't going to happen, Nor do you want people to be frightened of you. Stay somewhere in the middle and have them respect and trust and see you as fair.

7. Never be afraid to fire someone: Firing people is never easy. But there is no point beating around the bush, by taking them out for dinner. Gimmicks don't change the message. If you decide to get rid of someone, nothing beats honesty.

8. Keep a firm grip on control: Don't allow anyone to be stronger than you. Your personality has to be bigger than theirs. That's vital. It's not about looking for adversity or for opportunities to prove power; it's about having control and being authoritative when issues do arise.

9. Own the message: Whether the message is one person or 75,000, you need to assemble your thoughts, know what you want to emphasize and just say it. In meetings it is important to maintain eye contact and look directly at someone because it adds intensity to the delivery of the message. And never rely on notes. Nobody will ever believe that someone is an authority on a subject if they keep resorting to notes.

10. Use simple language — or none at all: Too many managers talk too much. The two most important words for a player, or for any human being, there is nothing better than hearing "Well done." And few reprimands are as powerful as silence.