Sergio Marchionne is well known for taking over struggling car companies and turning them around. His most recent endeavor was becoming the CEO of Fiat and Chrysler. His business idol, Steve Jobs, who much like himself, took a struggling computer company and turned it into a company that continues to change the way we live and communicate today. It is no surprise that Sergio’s idol is a transformational leader who had similar goals and charisma. Micromanagement
One of Sergio’s early efforts was to transform the company from one that made large gas guzzling vehicles to one that made more energy efficient ones. He wanted to work closely with the engineers and managers that made the operational decisions and organizational design issues (DubBrin, 2013). Someone at his level typically makes more of the strategic decisions and relies more upon his management staff to handle the day-to-day operations and direct them as needed. Many managers aren’t able to easily let go of how they used to operate (Ashkenas, 2012). It seems that Sergio is trying to stay connected with the decisions and the people in his new role in a similar many he would have if he was still and manager and not the CEO. It also appears that he is afraid of losing touch with the operations of the organization. Ashkenas says that many in his position feel that they become more isolated in their higher up position so they compensate and satisfy their anxiety by attempting to stay as connected as much as possible (Ashkenas, 2012). When Sergio’s need for more direct contact and interaction unites with his old tendencies to manage, then he becomes more of a micromanager whether he realizes it or not.
Sergio is a very task oriented leader. DuBrin lists out 2 characteristics of a task oriented leader that fit Sergio well. Sergio is good at setting the direction of Fiat and Chrysler new mission to make more fuel efficient cars. He also provides a lot of hands-on guidance and feedback. When Sergio said that he wanted to work closely with the people making the day-to-day decisions, one of his executives was quoted saying “it shows me that he is going to be very hands-on” (DuBrin, 2013). His desire to remain in close contact with the operations can help enhance his technical knowledge, which Dubrin says is a very important leadership characteristic, however too much
guidance and closely tied decision making is a sign of micromanagement. Concerns with door handle
Sergio was very concerned about the door handle that was not water-tight. Some leaders wouldn’t want to waste time and money trying to fix something that could be easily ignored. In the early part of his career, Sergio said that this issue “would have probably been swept under the carpet,” but not anymore (DuBrin, 2013). Take a minute to think about Sergio’s idol, Steve Jobs. What made his company and his legacy into something that will be talked about and studied for years? It was not only his charisma and vision, but his attention to detail and his unwillingness to compromise until his products reached perfection. Jobs was quoted in a Smithsonian Magazine article saying “it takes a lot of hard work to make something simple, to truly understand the underlying challenges and come up with elegant solutions,” (Isaacson, 2012). It makes sense that Sergio would be as concerned about the door handle as he was. His idol was someone who wouldn’t stop until perfection was reached and it seemed like he tried to emulate Job’s management style. This may solidify as discussed above that he is more of a micromanager than he realizes. Looking at all of the history and success that Job’s brought to Apple, which almost went bankrupt (Shontell, 2011), how could you blame Sergio for being so concerned with Fiat’s and Chrysler’s design? Dual Citizenship
As the CEO of 2 companies in 2 different countries, being a dual citizen of both countries has its benefits. By being a citizen of Italy Sergio has a unique opportunity as a businessman. He has better access to financial and investment opportunities in Italy that may benefit both countries which would otherwise be difficult to get for non-citizens. By being a citizen of a European Union country, Sergio is able to work or live anywhere in the European Union which expands his options when it comes to doing business and possibly trying to grow his business (italiandualcitizenship.com, 2013). He can travel between Canada and Italy with ease without having to get a work visa, so if a need arises where he need to quickly travel to either company, he can do so without any issues.
As a citizen of each country, Sergio can identify himself with the people of Canada and Italy and be better able to fit in with the culture. Levi talks about a one key thing about teams that relates well with Sergio’s situation, group norms. Group norms help establish the group’s values, establish a common ground for operating, define appropriate behavior and create a distinct identity (Levi, 2011). Think of each country and business as a team or group. As a member of each group, Sergio would most likely have a better understanding of each country’s and businesses norms so he could better fit in as part of the team rather than an outsider. He may better be able to motivate his teams differently since they’re each part of different countries and get more productivity out of them. Conclusion
Sergio has a unique opportunity by being the CEO of 2 different companies in 2 different countries. He invests much of himself in both Chrysler and Fiat. He is so concerned with his company’s day-to-day operations that he may miss out on most effectively managing the strategic initiatives between both companies. He is also concerned with both company’s products and performance the way his business idol was, Steve Jobs, that he risks being seen by many as a micromanager or micro-CEO which may be counter-productive. As a citizen of both Canada and Italy where both companies are located, Sergio is better able to take advantage of the ease of travel between counties, and has better access to financing and investment opportunities in each country that could benefit both Chrysler and Fiat. His dual citizenship may also give him a better understanding of the social norms in both countries so he can better manage and fit in within each company or team.
Sergio has a lot of good qualities that benefit his position as CEO of 2 different companies. While he cares a lot about the product, quality and day-to-day operations, he needs to focus more on the strategic initiatives especially if he plans on integrating business operations between Fiat and Chrysler. He also has the benefit of being a citizen of both Italy and Canada so he can understand and fit in with the norms of each country, but being seen as a micromanager could hinder productivity and respect from his teams. Overall Sergio has great qualities and is positioned well to run both companies. As long as he doesn’t lose sight of the bigger picture, he will
probably achieve what he set out to achieve.
DuBrin, A. (2013). Leadership – research, findings, practice, and skills. (7th ed.). Mason, OH: South-Western, Cengage Learning.
Levi, D. (2011). Group dynamics for teams. U.S.A: Sage Publications Inc.
Ashkenas, R. (2012, 11 19). Why no one admits to micromanaging. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/ronashkenas/2012/11/19/why-no-one-admits-to-micro-managing/
Isaacson, W. (2012, September). How Steve Jobs’ love of simplicity fueled a design revolution . Retrieved from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/How-Steve-Jobs-Love-of-Simplicity-Fueled-A-Design-Revolution-166251016.html
Shontell, A. (2011, January 19). The amazing story of how Steve Jobs took apple from near bankruptcy to billions in 13 years . Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/how-steve-jobs-took-apple-from-near-bankruptcy-to-billions-in-13-years-2011-1
Italian American Citizenship. (2013). Italian dual citizenship. Retrieved from http://www.italianamericancitizenship.com/Benefits.html http://www.italiandualcitizenship.com/id50.htm