My husband loves MotoGP and superbike racing. He owns a Buell and a Ducati. Watching him, I can see his mind swerving through those hairpin bends alongside Valentino Rossi (before his retirement, of course!). Hubby explains his mental gymnastics help him integrate the racing technique he sees into his own riding.

I believe mastery is a game of two halves, balancing theory with practice. While acquiring complete knowledge in your chosen field, you only step into your authority by triumphing over difficulties, challenges and rivals on the ground. In essence, mastery is a relentless journey to control the uncontrollable.

On the racetrack, riders look for the optimal route. Speed is one variable, but every lap is different. A panoply of small decisions makes or breaks the race. Watching mastery play out in the world of business, I swap racing drivers for leaders and follow them through the dogleg turns brought about by the pandemic.

Right now, I see too many leaders leaning into facile edicts around people, when tweaks elsewhere could bring greater benefit. Last week I was asked to help encourage one company’s whole team back full-time into the office. The business had received a barely lukewarm response after notifying staff members they expect everyone on site daily from August 2023. In discovery, I asked why the company had taken this approach?

After all, company success depends on far more than people. Race performance engineers work on optimising driver, vehicle, tyres, track and environment, using bi-directional feedback throughout the race for ongoing refinements in real-time. Business improvement must seek deeper than the obvious answer: “That’s how we did it before”.

While my husband dreams of the podium at Le Mans, my buttons are pushed by the singular mission of greater happiness at work for senior execs, business leaders and their teams. After years observing successful people, work settings and business behaviour, I reckon the pandemic has changed work for ever. It’s time for new thinking.

Right now, an important reflection is how winning leaders quickly swerve past efforts to control people. Instead, I’m helping leaders optimise working spaces (both virtual and physical) and implement operational behaviours which foster productivity regardless of environment. Adjusting and refining your working climate means you elevate the emotional experience for all stakeholders (clients and employees alike). Business is emotional and you can have this play in your favour when you know how.

Controlling people is wrong. Still, why would you if improved outcomes are your end game?