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    You Can’t Be Mercedes Toto Wolff, But You Can Be A Great Leader Like Him Using These 5 Pointers

    Toto Wolff is the Team Principal & CEO of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team.

    Image | F1 Chronicle

    Motorsport has always been a passion of mine, and I have a deep love for the sport. I have participated in rallies and races, and continue to do so. I have always looked up to iconic figures in the world of motorsport, admiring their personalities, characters, skills, and leadership styles. F1 Mercedes Team Principal, Toto Wolff is one such figure, who, as a race driver, investor, entrepreneur, and successful team owner, is an inspiration to me.

    I appreciate the way he presents himself through his attire and his dedication to fitness, and I believe he is one of the most good-looking gentlemen in the F1 paddock. Today, I would like to discuss Toto Wolff’s management and leadership style, which has led his F1 team to a great winning streak. There must be something special about his philosophy, management skills, and cultural approach. By exploring Toto Wolff’s stories, we can learn valuable lessons and take away pointers from his success. Let’s start our engines!

    Toto Wolff | Mercedes AMG Petronas

    Who is Toto Wolff?

    • Nationality: Austrian
    • Date of Birth: 12 January 1972
    • Place of Birth: Vienna, Austria
    • Lives: Monaco

    Toto Wolff is the Team Principal & CEO of the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team. He is the managing partner of the team alongside wider responsibilities as Head of Mercedes-Benz Motorsport. From humble surroundings in Vienna, Austria, Toto’s first taste of motorsport came when at 17, whilst watching a friend race at the Nürburgring. A short racing career of his own followed, competing in Austrian Formula Ford and scoring a class win at the 1994 Nürburgring 24 Hours.  

    Image | CarBuzz

    An entrepreneur, an investor, and a racer, motorsport runs in Toto Wolff’s blood. Under his leadership, the Mercedes-AMG PETRONAS F1 Team has clinched eight consecutive Formula One Constructors’ Championships (2014-2021) and seven consecutive Drivers’ Championships (2014-2020). 

    Forbes reported that Toto Wolf’s net worth is $1 billion.

    How to lead like Toto Wolff?

    To learn from the top Formula One manufacturer’s leader is priceless. Mercedes-AMG Petronas and Toto Wolff are one of many reasons why the team is on top of their game in the history of Formula One. He has led his organization to unparalleled success. From 2014 to 2021, Mercedes won nearly 70% of the Grand Prix races it entered, winning the Constructors’ Championship (for best overall team performance).

    Set an example and admit your mistakes

    This not only demonstrates integrity, but Toto also discussed how self-reflection and admitting when you are wrong can be extremely effective tools when speaking with team members. By speaking up, you also give other people a chance to admit when they are wrong. This may result in the development of a culture of brutal honesty and transparency, which is ultimately beneficial to the team because they will be able to change procedures more quickly if they are not covering up problems. Toto says that the Mercedes team has a culture of not taking responsibility for anything, and their motto for all departments is “See it, Say it, Fix it!” Mindfulness entails allowing the team time to think without technology.

    In an all-out industry like motorsport, wear out is dependably a sensible chance which Toto and his supervisory group are extremely mindful of and quick to keep away from inside the group.

    They encourage their team to disconnect from technology to address this. This can help you avoid burnout and improve your creativity and mindfulness by allowing you to take a break to think things over.

    Toto sets an example by not using any technology on the flight back from the Australian Grand Prix to the team’s base in the UK; instead, he sat and reflected. He said that these are the times when you can ask questions and learn about yourself. He also actively encourages team members to set aside time to sit down and think.

    Being humble when you win

    When you consistently win, it’s easy to become arrogant and complacent. We frequently observe instances of this in sports. Being the most incredible in any game can be the hardest spot to be, as you are the seat mark for every other person – yet where is your seat mark?

    Toto Wolff is known for his humble attitude even after winning. Here are some examples:

    • After Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team won the Constructors’ Championship in 2014, Wolff praised the team’s efforts but also acknowledged that there was still work to be done. He said, “I feel incredibly proud of what we have achieved together, but we will not rest on our laurels. There is still much more we want to achieve, and we know that our competitors will be working hard to catch up.”
    • After Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team won the 2018 Azerbaijan Grand Prix, Wolff credited the team’s success to a collaborative effort. He said, “It was a great team effort, and everyone played their part. The drivers were fantastic, the pit crew was flawless, and the engineers made the right calls. It’s always a team effort.”
    • After Lewis Hamilton won the 2020 British Grand Prix, Wolff gave credit to the team but also praised Hamilton’s performance. He said, “It was a team effort, and everyone did an incredible job. But Lewis was simply outstanding today, and he fully deserves this victory.”

    These examples show that even after winning, Toto Wolff remains humble and gives credit to the team rather than taking all the credit himself. He acknowledges that winning requires a collaborative effort and that there is always room for improvement.

    Getting rid of the fear of failure

    The feeling of dread toward disappointment is a tremendous issue for the majority of us in both business and individual life. Toto asks himself, “Ultimately, what is the worst-case scenario when it comes to failure?” when it comes to Mercedes. furthermore, the response is Mercedes don’t come out on top in a race. He then needs to address is that situation actually that awful. Indeed, he doesn’t believe that it should happen consistently however he can imagine numerous more awful things for the business, for example, a no-arrangement Brexit which will influence the business and its workers possibly undeniably more.

    How Toto handled Lewis and Nico during the 2014–2016 Formula One season, when Toto’s drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg competed for the championship, demonstrates that Toto is well-versed in conflict resolution.

    Toto talks about the psychology of conflict in the same interview we talked about in part 2 with Rosberg. He says that when he gets into a conflict, instead of going straight into “conflict mode,” he will always try to take a step back and think through the following:

    • Why is this individual’s viewpoint different from mine?
    • What point of view are they taking?
    • What is the purpose of this conversation for them?
    • What distinguishes it from mine?

    You can analyse and comprehend the other person’s position by reflecting on it, and then you can try to find a solution that works for both of you rather than fighting. Taking this approach has also helped in other areas of business, like negotiating contracts and understanding when two people in your company don’t get along.

    Avoiding complacency

    After a prolonged winning streak, any great sports team may experience phases of complacency, such as “I don’t know we just keep on winning!” becoming “I don’t know we just keep on losing!”

    So how does the Mercedes Equation 1 group attempt to keep away from this?

    “We make the most progress on difficult days.” Toto told Autosport magazine while pondering the 2018 Belgium Great Prix when it seemed as though Ferrari had at last out-created Mercedes, just for the group to dig profound and return significantly more grounded “Achievement is an inferior educator and considering the reason why disappointments happen significantly”.

    To Toto, he has a straightforward recipe “Disappointment + Reflection = Progress”.

    Mercedes’ success is based on Toto Wolff’s leadership, and the Austrian company achieves success by eliminating internal politics and having clearly defined goals.

    Based on the information I shared earlier, we can conclude that Toto Wolff is an effective leader who values transparency, teamwork, and accountability. He leads by example, sets a clear vision, and empowers his team to take ownership of their roles and responsibilities. Wolff also prioritizes building a culture of excellence and innovation, which enables his team to achieve their full potential.


    Based on the above observation, here are some take-home pointers.

    1. Clear vision and strategy. Toto Wolff is known for setting a clear vision and strategy for his team. He communicates this vision and strategy to his team members, which helps them understand their roles and responsibilities in achieving the team’s goals. An example of this is when Wolff became the team principal of Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team in 2013. He set a clear goal of making Mercedes the best team in F1 and made strategic decisions to achieve this goal, such as recruiting top talent and investing in cutting-edge technology.
    2. Empowerment. Wolff empowers his team members to take ownership of their roles and responsibilities. He encourages his team members to think creatively and take calculated risks, which fosters a culture of innovation. An example of this is when Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team was facing technical difficulties during the 2014 season. Wolff encouraged his team members to think outside the box and come up with a creative solution, which led to the team dominating the F1 circuit that year.
    3. Accountability. Wolff believes in holding his team members accountable for their actions and decisions. He sets clear expectations and provides feedback to help his team members improve their performance. An example of this is when Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team faced challenges during the 2016 season. Wolff held his team members accountable for their mistakes but also supported them in finding solutions to the team’s issues.
    4. Transparency. Wolff values transparency in his leadership style. He communicates openly with his team members and encourages them to do the same with him. He believes in being honest and upfront, even when it may be uncomfortable. An example of this is when Wolff publicly admitted that Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team was struggling during the 2019 season. He acknowledged the team’s mistakes and worked with his team members to find solutions to improve their performance.
    5. Culture of excellence. Wolff prioritises building a culture of excellence within his team. He sets high standards for performance and encourages his team members to strive for excellence in everything they do. An example of this is when Wolff emphasized the importance of continuous improvement within the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team. He encouraged his team members to learn from their mistakes and constantly look for ways to improve their performance.

    In conclusion, Toto Wolff is an effective leader who values clear vision, empowerment, accountability, transparency, and a culture of excellence. His leadership style has played a crucial role in the success of the Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team, and he is highly respected in the world of motorsports.

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    An entrepreneur, business coach, rally, and race driver with a passion for entrepreneurs and talent development. A certified business & leadership coach, a part-time motoring journalist, and an automotive TV host.He served in various automotive companies, including PROTON, DRB-HICOM, General Motors, Kleemann, and KIA; gained experience in branding and international sales & marketing while serving in Rayong Thailand, Copenhagen Denmark, Singapore, Europe, and the ASEAN markets.He provides Business & Leadership Coaching, Corporate Training, Advanced & Performance Driving Classes, and Talents Development programs. You can email him via the given link.Currently a Board of Director of KEJORA Holdings and a Director at TIC (TAJ International College) and he sits on board a few other SMEs as a Corporate Advisor.

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