Toto Wolff believes that every manager or director must find their management style. The Mercedes F1 director has found his own, and thinks there are two opposing types of leaders. Very often, according to him, the most difficult thing is to have a balanced approach.
« The most important thing is to be authentic in the way you act and to be true to yourself. Because if you’re not authentic, and you try to pretend to do things a certain way, people will feel it. Even if it’s not a conscious reaction » notes Wolff.
« Clearly, if you look at both sides of the spectrum, you have an absolute empathetic person who avoids controversy, tries to deal with love, and will, at some stage, be disappointed at how people abuse that personality type. »
« On the other side is the baseball bat, which handles with terror and anxiety, really pushing people beyond their limits. »
And to note that one of the leaders who most succeeded in finding the balance at this level was the former president of Ferrari, Sergio Marchionne, who died in 2018: « I saw that side work very well, and I saw that side work very well. One of the people I looked up to for his authenticity was Sergio Marchionne. »
« He was tough but he stayed true to his style and he was very successful with that. So you have to figure out for yourself who you are and how you do things. I think whether you’re tough or soft, whether you manage with empathy or not, it becomes irrelevant as long as you understand what you need to achieve with this organization. »
Difficulties that have « reinvigorated » Wolff
Susie Wolff, former Venturi Formula E director, has seen her husband’s change in approach during the difficult 2022 season. trying to find success.
« Yes, in fact, it’s the same. We never took success for granted » said Susie Wolff. “There have been times over the last eight years where it was more difficult, but there were plenty of times when the car was dominant.
« The success was huge, but we always enjoyed it a lot when the success was there. We also, maybe me more than Toto… I could see how they were all going to chase Mercedes.
« It was clear, probably for the health of the sport, it was also important for them not to win everything. We always respected the competition and we always knew that a day would come when it wouldn’t be so easy. »
« So I think actually having that challenge at the very beginning of the year, seeing that the car wasn’t fast enough, kind of…I wouldn’t want to say that it invigorated Toto, because it gives a connotation that he was not invigorated before. »
« But when the going gets tough, the tough people keep going. This was the time he really had to look at the organization and figure out what had gone wrong and how they could recover quickly. So it was a huge challenge. and, don’t get me wrong, failure hurts. It’s not nice not to win. »
« But on the other hand, it’s a long-term game and it’s about figuring out how we can get back to where we want. In the races where we get closer, the adrenaline is flowing a lot more than when we were doing easy one-twos. That’s racing, and that’s what we like to do. »