Fear, Formula One and Learning from Mistakes

By Heather Campbell

CommsMastersBy Heather Campbell >>

What’s the link between a high-performance Formula One car and fear in the workplace?

Well, that’s precisely what business leaders from around the UK are going to be exploring at our Business Leaders’ Seminar this Friday.

Our guest speaker Mark Jenkins, Professor of Business Strategy and Director of Community for Strategy, People & Leadership at Cranfield School of Management, will be sharing insights from his research into teamwork, leadership and innovation in the cut-throat industry that is Formula One.

It makes for fascinating listening – I know because I’ve heard Mark’s session twice and I thoroughly enjoyed it both times. (And I speak as someone who is not a fan of the racing circuit.)

The primary message that struck home for me is that, in this glossy, glamorous world, people spend a lot of time talking about what mistakes they made.

Even in the post-race celebrations on a winning day, teams focus more on what they did wrong than what they did right.

That’s what helps them refine, refine, refine those fabulous machines – so staying that critical step ahead of the competition.

This means that, in the high-stakes world of Formula One, it’s okay to admit you got it wrong.

That you could have done better, and will learn from it.

If such admissions are good enough for Formula One, they’re good enough for most other industries too.

But talking about mistakes – what went wrong, what could have been done better – is still anathema in far too many businesses.

‘Cover your back’, ‘find who’s to blame’, ‘criticise rather than learn’ are still the watchwords for most.

And what drives (excuse the pun) this less-than-productive thinking?


To willingly admit to mistakes requires an absence of fear.

Where fear is present, covering your back, blaming and criticising others are rife.

More on this in my next blog…

CommsMasters are specialists in enabling individuals, teams and organisations have the difficult conversations and tackle the sensitive topics that are too often left to fester – at the expense of individual, team and organisational performance. Find out more here or call Tor on +44 (0)141 419 0183.

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