Mercedes team boss Toto Wolff talks about what it takes to be a good leader and names the most important leadership skills.
Toto and his wife Susie gave an interview to Mercedes-Benz where they talk about leadership, the COVID-19 crisis and their family life. In the interview Toto Wolff goes into detail on his style of leadership and the skills he believes one needs to be a good leader.
“In my professional life in finance, one of my responsibilities was the recruitment of capable teams – which means being able to identify talented people,” said Wolff.
“This experience helps me a lot in Formula One in terms of structuring a performance-oriented organisation.
“Coping with multiple tasks is all about understanding where you can contribute the most and focusing your efforts on your strengths while finding the right resources to complement you in the weaker areas.”
But being a good leader means nothing if you are not surrounded by a good team. The Austrian went on to explain what he expects from the people he’s working with.
“Being able to adapt to change. Because like Darwin’s principle, it’s not about the survival of the strongest but of the most adaptable.
“Suddenly, the environment changes, we must cope with a crisis and curve balls are being thrown at us. So, you must be able to think out of the box – and adapt. We learn the most on our worst days.
“If you’re able to analyse a problem without blaming the person but instead blaming the problem, your organisation will grow even from painful experiences.”
Wolff believes it is the act of individuals coming together, each taking a leadership role in their own field, that makes a team successful.
“I struggle to discuss leadership in that context because I believe that in successful organisations, everybody must take responsibility and be accountable for decisions. So, there’s never just one leader – but many.
“In our team, we established some values when I joined and they have been our core performance differentiator at Mercedes. It’s all about the right mindset. We all have the same attitude about being loyal and transparent in our actions. We always stick with the truth, empower each other, and have a no-blame culture.
“To be successful as an organisation, you must live and breathe these values every single day, rather than just writing them on a chart on the wall.”
Ultimately, when pushed, Wolff named what he believes are the most important skills for a leader.
“Empathy. Interest in the people you manage. An understanding of their individual strengths and weaknesses.
“And an understanding of empowerment and standing by those values,” concluded the Austrian.