Irony In Motown

This is a short and simple story. Probably too simple. The moral of the story is obvious.

Who would have ever thought we’d see a strong example of LEADERSHIP coming out of Detroit of all places? I’m not disparaging the Motor City in any way. Motown has played a critical role in my life for decades. It’s just that one seldom links leadership to this particular city due to the demise of the auto industry and what we have long known as The Big Three.

Ironically, it’s one of the Big Three that is currently basking in the limelight, demonstrating what true leadership can accomplish.

Let me share a few facts that pretty much speak for themselves.

Washington provided in the vicinity of $82 billion dollars of OUR money to bail out General Motors and Chrysler last year.

Ford Motor Company refused assistance because it knew about the strings which would be attached to any government loan. It knew its hands would be tied.

The 21st Annual North American International Auto Show began this week in Detroit.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, thronged by reporters and cameras, led her entourage of a dozen members of Congress on a two-hour walk-through of the floor, squeezing onto show displays while top company officials talked up their businesses. They were there to check on OUR investment. Guess what they found?

Every year the Annual North American International Auto Show acknowledges the Best Car and the Best Truck of the Year. Seldom do both designations go to the same manufacturer. This year they did. Ford Motor Company took both honors. It took NO bailout money and yet out-performed and out-produced its two competitors that took billions from taxpayers. Think about it!

I must admit that I’ve never been fond of the Ford family and the reason is probably unfair. I’ve never approved of the way the family managed our Detroit Lions … the NFL football franchise they’ve owned far too long. It’s been a long-standing case of poor leadership.

However, Henry Ford’s great grandson William Clay (Bill) Ford has certainly gained my respect. Three years ago he stepped down as the leader of Ford Motor Company because he knew he wasn’t doing the job necessary to succeed in a very competitive, chaotic environment. That’s a tough choice to make when your name is on every building in the empire and every one of your cars in the country.

However, Ford recruited Alan Mulally, the President of Commercial Airplanes for Boeing. He chose Mulally for his reputation of being a “people person.” Ford was ridiculed by many at the time because the new President and CEO wasn’t a “car guy” and knew little of the auto industry. However, he had proven at Boeing that he knew how to lead people, and that’s what Ford was looking for. The rest of the story continues to provide a valuable lesson to anyone concerned about success.

Re-read this story with your staff and discuss the consequences for everyone involved. Then discuss how it relates to your own organization, its future and success.

I wonder if Nancy Pelosi and her Washington cronies, from both parties, know this story… probably not because the facts are on the table, not passed on under the table.

About Harry K. Jones

Harry K. Jones is a motivational speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a company of professional speakers who provide custom-designed seminars, keynote presentations, and consulting services. Harry's top requested topics include change management, customer service, creativity, employee retention, goal setting, leadership, stress management, teamwork, and time management. For more information on Harry's presentations, please call 800-886-2629 or fill out our contact form.

2 thoughts on “Irony In Motown

  1. This is an awesome post. What strikes me is how real leaders are easy targets for ridicule, public scrutiny. As the president of a small firm, I always have to remind myself that being a leader is not a popularity contest. Good leaders do what William Clay Ford did–they see the bigger picture, are not swayed easily by public opinion, and have to make tough decisions in order to see the vision into reality. Thanks for the read!

  2. Michelle,
    Thanks so much for taking the time to share your thoughts … it’s so nice to hear someone in your position share such words of wisdom. This is the kind of message and example we must pass on to the next generation in hopes of changing the chaotic conditions we see today. Appreciate your comments,

    Harry K. Jones

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