Toto Wolff is the team principal and 30% owner of Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One Team. Having in the period 2014-16 won triple world championships in both the driver and constructor category, Mercedes under his leadership is without doubt the most successful Formula 1 team of the current generation. Following the retirement of Nico Rosberg at the end of last year, Mercedes have just appointed Valtteri Bottas as Nico's replacement. Toto's statement to the press on this is as ever full of insight into management at the highest level. This is what he said.
Do mission statements want to make you puke? In part, this is because it has become established doctrine that every company should have one but many are simply platitudes about being the best blah blah blah. But a proper mission statement signals exactly what a company wants to achieve, and in that sense should define the purpose for every employee to turn up to work every day. Jack Welch, legendary business leader even suggests:
a mission is the defining moment for a company's leadership
"In managing a company, you of course need to be rational... but I'm gradually learning to be less rational and more emotional. Motivating people and generating a sense of spirit inside a company are essential parts of the CEO's role. We need to appeal to our employees' emotions to help create an environment where they can innovate."
Pablo Isla, Inditex CEO, HBR November Issue
Bernie Ecclestone, the billionaire who controls Formula 1 is a man who knows about winning. Bernie, who is so often good for quotes, once said:
Show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser.
Time and again winners talk about the 'winning whatever it takes' mindset, but I have already argued many times on this blog about how strong ethical values are so important for those who wish to achieve the greatest success. Can the two be reconciled? Can you be a winner without compromising your core values?
Management stuff, it can seem nice in principle but in a busy world, do you really need to do it, after all, subordinates have to do what you tell them right? Wells Fargo, one of the largest banks in America has found out the hard way the downside to this approach. The results of poor management have been devastating: employees have lost their jobs, the stock price has plummeted, the CEO retired early and in shame, regulators have fined the bank $185m for misconduct and the company is being sued by ex-employees for $2,5bn. Some customers meanwhile are now refusing to do business with the bank. And it all could have been so easily avoided.
For Formula 1 fans who support Lewis Hamilton, Sunday's Malaysian GP was a big disappointment, so one can only imagine how Lewis himself felt after his engine went up in smoke and possibly his championship hopes also. This was of course big news and the press hung on his every word but such a huge setback allowed us a valuable insight into the mind of a champion. While he no doubt has been trained by the best PR agents in the business, I'd like to think that what he says publicly, is indeed what he thinks privately, not least because he is a driver who is known to wear his heart on his sleeve. Let's jump in.
It is said that when Julius Caesar was asked why he divorced his wife Pompeia, it was because she was suspected of some wrong doing and he could not associate with her anymore. And so the phrase 'Caesar's wife must be above suspicion' entered the public domain. It is worth noting here that it is not recorded whether Caesar's wife actually did anything wrong, she was merely suspected of it, and that itself is sufficient. And so we come to Big Sam Allardyce, England football manager for all of 67 days, for the England football manager, like Caesar's wife, must be above suspicion.
Moments ago Jeremy Corbyn was re-elected as leader of the Labour Party. Given that the challenge to his leadership was held after a vote of no confidence saw him lose by 172-40, it seemed an ideal time to think about his shadow front bench in the classic group analysis of forming, storming, norming, performing...
Shakespeare's Henry V is of course one of greatest plays ever written but beyond literature, Shakespeare's mastery of character means there is also much to learn from it about leadership. Henry is a king and a soldier, taking his men to war at Agincourt, outnumbered 20 to one by the French and expecting with much of his company to die. On the morning of the battle, Henry takes the temperature of the situation. I found myself quite amazed how Shakespeare's devices and King Henry's words and thoughts have resonance in the wisdom of one of the modern era's greatest soldiers, former US 4 star General Colin Powell. Here I draw out a few things of significance.