Toto Wolff and Sergio Marchionne rely on very different management styles, but the latter’s direct and blunt approach to issues seems to work for Ferrari, says the Mercedes boss.
From openly criticizing the Scuderia’s performance to calling Kimi Raikkonen a “laggard”, the outspoken Marchionne often gives the impression of shooting from the hip.
Asked whether the manager’s candid attitude may have negatively impacted the atmosphere at the Scuderia, with repercussions on its performance last season, Wolff says that notion is an “oversimplification” of things.
“Pressure can make a diamond, but pressure can also make a pipe burst,” Wolff told Motorsport.com.
“Sergio Marchionne is one of the most successful businessmen that I have ever met, and somebody that has one of the sharpest minds I have ever seen operating.
“So far it [Ferrari’s style] works for him and I don’t think you can reduce Ferrari’s 2017 season, or the end of the 2017 season campaign, to pressure that was applied. I think this is oversimplification.”
Mercedes advocates an approach by which mistakes are identified and improvements are made, thus avoiding a potentially toxic blame game.
“We encourage everybody in the organisation to speak up,” he said.
“We have a motto that is ‘see it, say it, fix it’ which means that you have to create a safe environment for everybody to speak up. You need to be able to improve as a part of the team.
“What we try to do from the very senior leadership is to blame the problem and not the individual.
“It is easy to say ‘well, that is what we do’. As a matter of fact, it is in human nature to try to identify a guilty person, it is easy because it is a pressure release – his fault.
“We’re working really hard on not doing that because the moment you do that people close up like a shell and you won’t see any innovation, you won’t see any risk-taking.
“This is what we want – we are in a risk-taking business, an innovation business.”