I previously wrote about how the Le Mans challenge and Ford’s development of the GT40 race car famously depicted in the Hollywood blockbuster Ford v Ferrari, contained teambuilding lessons that MSPs could learn from and apply. Today, I examine lessons on leadership from that same movie, that MSPs can also implement into their team.
These insights can fit into two specific categories within the broad topic of team leadership: managing conflict and taking risks.
Managing conflict as part of team leadership
Ford vs. Ferrari gave us examples of conflict at every turn. The most exciting battles were among the team members. Arguably, everyone was interested in the same goal. But with that many strong personalities, conflict was inevitable. One discernable difference today is that within most teams, there is far less concern about who gets the visible credit.
This leads us to our driver, Ken Miles. Ken comes from a breed where every bone of his being is dedicated to cars and racing. In the film, it’s how he relates not only to his son, but to everyone around him.
No doubt, each of us has a colleague who lives their job. They wake up, grab their phone, check the overseas markets, read the WSJ, or respond to emails at 5:00 a.m. When you are at happy hour, they aren’t distracted by ESPN, instead Bloomberg and their phone are what holds their interest.
With Carol and Ken on the same team, the passion they had for engines was bound to lead to tension. They both held onto unbridled passion and ego for days, which eventually erupted into a full-blown brawl.
It’s also not unusual to have a member of the team who is a malcontent. What do you do to bring them around? Perhaps it’s understanding their motivations and helping to nurture those? Figuring out how to feed their drive and desire, without leaving a path of destruction in their wake, would be beneficial to everyone.
Recognizing these characteristics in your team members and learning to capitalize on them is crucial in showcasing team leadership. Sometimes, it’s okay for your team to butt heads. What’s important is to know how to use the conflict to motivate your team to excellence and achievement.
It’s important that #MSPs know how to turn conflict into motivation for their team to achieve their goals. #MSPsuccess #TeamLeadership
One of the best ways to manage conflict among team members is looking at how you present yourself. Are you consistent? Can your team expect the same level of support, a positive outlook, and helpful motivation from you, day in and day out? If not, you could be the source of conflict. When your team doesn’t know who is going to show up to lead them every day, it can be challenging to thrive. Giving your team consistency of behavior and environment can go a long way towards leading a highly-functioning team.
Another helpful tactic is to assist your employees in understanding their team members’ motivations and how they result in action. This approach can help team members view other perspectives and learn that their actions don’t mean someone is plotting or out to get them.
There was so much risk-taking in the film that could reasonably be considered innovation in today’s world. In the beginning, they weren’t even sure the car would hold together. But they figured out when and how to take the necessary risks, how to make the car go faster, how to make sure the brakes wouldn’t catch the whole car on fire.
Would developing a multi-million dollar (in 1960’s money!) LeMans-winning car translate to vehicle sales for Ford? That was another considerable risk. In a similar timeline to the development of the GT40, Ford was hard at work on bringing the Mustang to market. The idea to use a high-profile race car to drive sales of a mass-market vehicle was certainly a new concept, making the elite accessible to the average consumer. Ford needed something new, something sexy. It was a time when the Thunderbird was considered sleek, but indeed not a cool, blue-collar car.
Ford hoped that the Mustang would sell 100,000 units in the first year. It sold 400,000. In year two, it sold a million. Ford had a sense of what consumers wanted and were ready to buy. They invested in a risk that is still paying off many years later.
Today, particularly during COVID, risk-taking is challenging. But I cannot say it enough, getting uncomfortable and being afraid is a feeling we all need to grasp. When we have a competent team that we trust and that functions well, taking well-calculated risks can have massive rewards.
When an #MSP has a competent team that it can trust and that functions well, taking well-calculated risks can have massive rewards. #TeamLeadership
What risks are you ready and willing to take? If you can’t think of one off the top of your head, ask yourself what’s holding you back? What’s blocking your good ideas? Is it planning? If it’s the team, fix that!
Chances are good you may be getting in your own way! Most likely, you took a lot of risks to get to where you are today. There can be a tendency to ease up and protect what you have built. Don’t forget to continue to grow and expand; you need to be your “old self” at times.
I’d like to leave you with one final thought and perhaps the best quote in the film, from Carroll Shelby that relates to every aspect of our business:
“If you’re not winning, you are losing.”
Photo: Ps.INL / Shutterstock