Leadership, not simple management, the key factor to performance on track!

On August 26th, Eric Boullier, team principal Renault F1, made some very interesting statements on the topics of leadership, management and on track performance, relevant to the decision to replace Nick Heidfeld as a driver: 

"Nick is a nice guy, but I think something did not work. His leadership didn't work in the team and when you are sometimes slower than Vitaly, in fact most of the time slower than Vitaly, it is difficult for him to push the team and to settle himself as the team leader.

"In the end if you talk about management, not just speed, when you have the negative spin starting, the negative loop, it is complicated to stop it.

"I don't say the performance of the team was because of Nick. The car is not good enough, we have not developed the car well enough, we made mistakes as well – but the loop is negative. So I had to change something in the team and I had to change some things with the drivers as well to shake up and wake up everybody. I need to bring this motivation back to make sure that we can shake up everything, and it is not easy."

( from Autorsport article’s dated 26-8-11 “ Nick Heidfeld didn't deliver speed or leadership, says Renault team principal” by Jonathan Noble http://www.autosport.com/news/report.php/id/93985 )

I find all of this very intriguing because in the fast paced and complex world of Formula 1 every single detail counts to develop and deliver performance on track; a driver not only has to have on-track talent, the ability to work well within the team is essential. Even more important the ability to show leadership to inspire people during difficult times and support concretely decision making relevant to continuos improvement. Fernando Alonso at Ferrari is currently showing just these kind of skills.


Leadership (seen as the ability to inspire and set new courses for change and development - in other words, to guide progress) is probably much more relevant in the fast paced of F1 than simple management: by now organizational systems to keep things in check are well developed; what is always more and more necessary is the drive and the energy to focus on continuos improvement. 


All of this is very much relevant not only in the F1 world but within any kind of organization (large or small) dealing with the fast paced, complex array of issues, problems and opportunities on a daily basis. 


Through an in depth analysis of the leadership dynamics within the motorsport world we can learn a lot about the leadership dynamics needed for this 21st century. We can learn a lot from Boullier work and career and we will focus more and more on these topics.