Steve Davies, CEO at Fitch Media, has very kindly contributed an article following an interview he conducted with Mark Gallagher, former Commercial Director of two Formula One teams, and now a popular motivational speaker. Previously a Partner in three of the largest professional service firms (including PwC), Steve has nearly 30 years experience advising CEOs and their executive teams on effective methods of delivering and maintaining performance.In this article, Steve identifies seven key lessons, learned from observing the top drivers and teams in F1, and how they translate to building a sustainable organisation.
THE SECRETS OF WINNING: SEVEN LESSONS FROM FORMULA ONE
Last month we sat down with Mark Gallagher to talk motor racing, F1 politics and his forthcoming book, ‘The Business of Winning’.Over the course of the day we identified seven lessons from Formula One which can be applied to the world of business, all of them present in the winners of today and yesteryear.
To make it easier to digest we’ll separate the interview into two parts; this one about transferring the winning ways of F1 into business and a second piece about F1, past, present and future.
It’s a subject very close to my heart, having spent nearly 30 years advising CEOs and their executive teams on ways to deliver sustainable performance.
During this time I learned that winning has as much to do with mindset as talent and Gallagher has plenty of experience with both, having held senior roles within Jordan and Red Bull Racing and more recently running Cosworth’s F1 Business unit.
In addition to F1, Gallagher has tasted success in several other forms of motorsport including A1 GP, which he won in 2009 with Team Ireland, and Status Grand Prix – the team he co-founded in 2005 which has won seven GP3 races and competes in the LMP2 category of the Le Mans sports car series.
He now spends an increasing amount of his time as a motivational speaker, touring the world and talking to business leaders about the lessons learned from creating winning teams in the high-pressure world of motorsport.
Here are seven lessons we discussed that Formula One can teach us about winning.
1. WINNERS SURROUND THEMSELVES WITH OTHER WINNERS
The idiom ‘cream always rises to the top’ would suggest that sheer driving talent alone was responsible for podium success, but how many world champions have won in a bad car? And how many achieved those victories without a top-class team of designers, engineers and team personnel all pushing in the same direction?
Winners assemble the best resources and work with the best people.
This highlights one of the personality traits of successful race drivers – they’re also good leaders – particularly in a team running two drivers and competing in identical cars, the winner will be the one who best draws the team around him (or her). See Schumacher and Barrichello, Vettel and Webber, Häkkinen and Coulthard, Alonso and Massa.
“You can have all the talent in the world, but you’re not going to get anywhere without the right attitude…fight for everything.”
Jeremy Darroch, Chief Executive of British Sky Broadcasting.
MG:“Not only do the drivers who win championships drive the best cars, but they usually have the best management, the right sponsorship and a team which works equally as hard. You need to assemble the 20 different things in order for your career to achieve its potential.”
Michael Schumacher is perhaps the best exponent of winning as a collective; From 2000 to 2004 the dream team of Jean Todt, Ross Brawn, Rory Byrne and Schumacher claimed five successive world championship titles for Scuderia Ferrari, a feat yet to be eclipsed even by Messrs Vettel, Newey and Horner at Red Bull Racing, although you can clearly see the same ingredients at play.
2. WINNERS BECOME THE BEST THEY CAN BE
Damon Hill won the F1 world championship title in 1996 with Williams GP, and while a lot of people acknowledged his talent, he was also driving the best car. While the same was true of Ayrton Senna and Michael Schumacher, Hill’s achievement was seen by many in the paddock as a little less worthy than some of the greats.
Gallagher worked with Hill during the ’98 and ’99 seasons, when he drove for Jordan GP, and observed first-hand the way in which he applied his talent.
MG: "The penny really dropped with me when Damon came to Jordan in ’98, and obviously his win in Spa. He was no longer driving the best car, but the defining point in that weekend was during qualifying because Damon qualified third on the grid behind the two McLarens, and on the lap he qualified third he had Michael (Schumacher) literally in his wheel tracks – there was about 300 metres separating them – and every time Damon went through a sector time we were convinced Michael would beat him, but he didn’t. In fact through the third-sector, which in those days was the bus-stop, Damon pulled out an advantage on Michael’s Ferrari. That’s down to the driver. Although Damon wouldn’t be in the top six of my pure driving-talent list, my view on Damon is he worked very hard at his craft and deserved everything he achieved.”
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