MSP Team Building Lessons from the Le Mans Challenge

By John Pojeta | May 2, 2021

The story behind the film, “Ford v Ferrari” and the 24 Hour Le Mans’ challenges offer learnings about MSP teambuilding that I believe MSPs can relate to and apply.

You may not be trying to win Le Mans, but we are all working to do more, bigger, better, and faster than we ever have before. That means hiring dynamic people with diverse skill sets, managing conflict to success, and taking risks. How well we lead, encourage and plan determines how, if, and when we win Le Mans – our Le Mans.

Building a team

When you look at the film, every manager had specific challenges from the top down when putting together the perfect team to win Le Mans. Similar to auto-racing, when it comes to a winning business model, many different people make up our team. This team is working together toward one common goal – helping our clients successfully reach their goals. And even though we have this defined goal, each team member operates from a different place of motivation, has specific talents and limitations, as well as a unique perspective. How can we put these differing motivations to work to build a successful team?

Henry Ford II, was motivated by many different things: humiliation, a family legacy, and successfully running a company whose vibrancy supported an entire city. Ultimately though, his ego was really in the driver’s seat. That’s a full plate that we can relate to, even if not to Ford’s scale.

At that point in history, Ford Motors was coming off the failure of the Edsel. Being bold and innovative was not an easy choice, but Ford had to embrace it. Developing a race car that made the Ford brand exciting, desirable, and, most of all sellable, was crucial. I cannot say it enough, getting uncomfortable and even being afraid are feelings we all need to grasp.

The lessons we can learn from Ford are that putting the right team together is of utmost importance. Knowing your team, their capabilities, their shortcomings, and how to motivate them are all keys to understanding how to extract the best performance from them, all while ensuring they feel part of something bigger.

Ford worked with men like Lee Iaccoca and Richard Beebe to develop the sports car division. They brought in luminary car builder Carol Shelby, who put together a diverse team of engineers, gearheads, and fearless drivers, including Ken Miles.

(Related: Turning Hope into a Strategy for Success)

How does that translate to your MSP business?

Think about how you hire. Do you shy away from candidates that challenge you, ones that may seem brighter or faster than you? That’s a big mistake. Those are the candidates that we should be seeking out to help us grow and innovate.

Shelby was excited by innovation and problem-solving and ultimately making a fantastic product. Due to the race’s precise requirements, this project demanded a creative mind that could reframe problems, engage innovation, and manage expectations.

A perfect Carol Shelby quote to illustrate this point: “I’ve always been asked, what is my favorite car? and I’ve always said the next one.”

Shelby teaches us that those team members with analytical and often visionary minds are incredibly valuable. They see the big picture but can dig in to determine where processes and practices can be improved, and how to implement those improvements to yield success.

What about the makeup of your team? When you have the opportunity to add new team members, do you simply fill that open sales spot with another salesperson? What if you instead considered  all of the strengths of your team and took inventory of what’s missing?

Maybe a salesperson isn’t precisely what you need. Perhaps it’s a strategist – a team member who keeps you aligned and moving forward. Or perhaps you’d benefit from a communications specialist who helps your team craft compelling messages about your products and how they benefit your clients.

One factor to consider in MSP teambuilding is that today’s employees and entrepreneurs, especially compared to the era of Henry Ford II, are not motivated or enticed by the fear that was frequently used to threaten employees. Employees today, especially younger employees, are motivated and excited by innovation, collaboration, and having an equal voice and contribution. Their perspectives are unique and should be heard and considered.

Just remember you and your team define what your Le Mans is and how to win it!

Now that your team is built, how do you handle the inevitable conflicts that arise and what can you do to encourage risk taking? We’ll have more to share on this in our next article.

Thank you SmarterMSP for publishing this article.

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About the Author

John Pojeta

John Pojeta - Vice President of Business Development

John researches new types of business and manages and initiates strategic, corporate-level relationships to expand exposure for The PT Services Group. John came to The PT Services Group in 2011. Before that, he owned and operated an Ameriprise Financial Services franchise for 16 years.

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