Five lessons for leaders to cultivate winning teams inspired by Mercedes Team Principal Toto Wolff
To win in Formula One takes strong leadership, purpose, focus and teamwork, strategies that can also help you succeed in business.
1. Set the highest standards for everyone.
Wolff sets the highest standards throughout the organisation and highlights that every team member plays a part in Mercedes’ performance.
This mindset has contributed to the emergence of an organisation obsessed with excellence that constantly aims to raise its standards and set the benchmark within its sport.
2. Put people at the front and centre.
Changing an organisation’s culture is a slow process that requires consistent effort and follow-through.
Mercedes holds off-site workshops with his leadership team to discuss the organisation’s human side, vision and ambitions, annual employee evaluations where the leadership team asks people to self-assess their performance on the team’s core values, and encourages team leaders to spend a day each year clarifying their intentions and annual goals to guide their work that year.
3. Analyse mistakes – even when winning.
Wolff’s directness has contributed to an organisational culture that places great value on analysing its race-weekend performances.
Win or lose, the team holds debrief meetings and conducts them similarly, focusing on what can be improved the next time.
4. Foster an open, no-blame culture.
Wolff advocates a no-blame culture and makes a point of backing individuals who make missteps. However, he is not afraid to be honest with himself and others about his failures.
His reluctance to assign blame to others and his willingness to accept it personally foster a culture that encourages openness.
5. Relentlessly battle complacency.
‘You must never, ever believe that winning will continue. On the contrary, I always worry that it could end.’
For a team to win even a single F1 championship, every part of the organisation must come together with a strong focus and purpose.
This is only possible with a highly effective leader who understands that establishing a winning culture is all-encompassing and never-ending.
Source article: ‘Drive Your Company to Win Like Just Like in Formula One’, Anita Elberse, Lincoln Filene Professor of Business Administration, Harvard Business School, The Australian, 26-27 November 2022
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