Derek Bishop


Engaging in team orders

Date added: 26th Mar 2013
Category: Employee Engagement

F1 motor racing is like marmite.  You either can’t get enough or you are in tune with the “On The Hour” sketch in which Steve Coogan in the guise of sports reporter Alan Partridge made comedy gold out of repetitions of, “through the chicane, through the chicane, amazing…”

Fan or not, the latest F1 Grand Prix from Malaysia taught us as much about what happens when the good of the team conflicts with personality as it did about motor racing.  Out in front Red Bull’s Mark Webber believed he was coasting towards the win only to be beaten by his team mate Sebastian Vettel, who ignored team instructions and overtook Webber to take the win.  Behind the Red Bull conflict came a Mercedes battle in which Nico Rosberg accepted the order to stay behind Lewis Hamilton, despite repeatedly pleading with the team boss to be allowed to overtake.

With the race won and points set in stone we were left with the uncomfortable sight of three individuals standing on the podium, none of whom looked particularly pleased to be there.  Success in F1 depends on slick teamwork and the team principles have a hard road ahead in reconciling their drivers and re-energising the teams ready for the Chinese Grand Prix on 14 April.

Of course F1 is not alone in requiring members of the team to act for the benefit of the team rather than to satisfy their own ambition.  Engaging the hearts and minds of employees to embrace the vision is one of the key roles of the leadership team and conflict resolution is an important skill.  The true winner from Malaysia was Nico Rosberg who despite being disappointed with the team order was happy to say “I’m a Mercedes employee and it’s important the team do well.”

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