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Leadership Lessons From Ford’s New CEO

I have said it often, and in many different contexts, that I am a life-long learner. To keep that in my DNA, I read and learn from the world of:

  • Sports
  • Business
  • The church world
  • The military
  • I read a couple of books a month and also follow a handful of leaders on Twitter/Facebook and subscribe to their blogs. Since my calling is around leadership development, this is always the subject I have my eyes open for.

    I want to be open to learn from anybody, on any subject, at any time. I don’t ever want to become the leader that the late Howard Hendricks referred to as having “hardening of the categories.” I want to be teachable, flexible and always ready and open for a new way of thinking about something or deepening my understanding of what I already believe and have convictions about. Sometimes I do well at this and, at other times, I suck.

    I believe all leadership principles are really God’s principles which are found in various places in the Old and New Testament.  The book of Proverbs is especially rich in life and leadership principles to live by.

    Speaking of the book of Proverbs, one verse that keeps me motivated on the topic of being a life-long learner is Proverb 5:12, 13 in The Living Bible:

    “…and you say, ‘Oh, if only I had listened! If only I had not demanded my own way! Oh, why wouldn’t I take advice? Why was I so stupid?’”

    Somehow or other when I see the word “stupid” it gets my attention really quick.

    On May 2nd on page 1 of the Business section of the “Los Angeles Times,” there was an article about Mark Fields who, in July of this year, is replacing Alan Mulally as the CEO of Ford Motor Company.  Imbedded in that story was a Q&A with Mark.

    “How would you describe your management style?"

    “First off, I am very curious. I ask a lot of questions because I think it is important to understand first before trying to be understood. I believe strongly in the power of bringing people together to create solutions to things rather than relying on your title to do that. I try to be very consistent for the organization. I have a lot of passion for the business, but at the same time my style is one where you will get a predictable Mark whether it is a crisis or whether it is good times or whether there is not much going on. I will be very calm and steady. People won’t be guessing what type of mood Mark is in today.”

    Wow! In my humble opinion, if Mark Fields practices what he preaches in newspaper interviews, he will do well as the CEO of Ford Motor Company. 

    Here are three take-aways for me from this article:

    1. I want to be a curious question-asker and genuinely interested in other’s ideas and points of view.
    2. I want to be a collaborative team player in the way I lead, not a one-man show.
    3. I want to be boringly consistent and predictable in my moods--not one person here and another there. I want to understand and be honest about my emotions, but not be a slave--controlled and dominated by them.

    Did you have any take-aways from Mark’s response about his management style?


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