This paper presents the leadership traits, characteristics and behaviors of two business leaders: Lee Iacocca and Henry Ford II. Their business practices, character traits and even their flaws will be presented in the following sections so that they will be better understood in light of their achievements at Ford and Chrysler for Iacocca and at Ford Motors for Henry Ford II. Lee Iacocca: Becoming a World Class Leader at Chrysler Lee Iacocca was born as Lido Anthony Iacocca in 1924 and became known worldwide for his achievements in reviving Chrysler Corporation in the 1980s.
He took over Chrysler in 1978 and he became Chairman of the board in 1979. He then fulfilled his job until 1992 when he retired. In the course of his Presidency at Chrysler, he became an advocate of American business exports. Prior to becoming Chrysler’s top man, he served at Ford Motor Company from 1946. His career flourished and he became one of the top automobile developers at Ford. He became known for the Mustang and for offering the “56 for 56 campaign” where automobile buyers can pay $56 monthly payments for 1956 model cars.
In 1964, he became the President of Ford.
His career at Ford became very colorful. His development of the Lincoln brand and the revival of the Mercury brand brought him national renown. In addition to that, he also helped the Ford Pinto be catapulted to existence and be marketed. His leadership style and his management principles clashed with that of Henry Ford II whom he described as a wily and insecure leader in his autobiography “Lee Iacocca” (Iacocca & Novak, 1986).
Iacocca was a relentless leader. He exhausted the possibilities of a project before he declared that it was not workable.
Furthermore, he also made sure that each good concept he encounters gets a chance to be explored and developed. This way, some of his best products such as the Ford Mustang came into existence. During his time at Chrysler, he also recognized the importance of sticking to his principles. After being fired from Ford Motor Company, Iacocca jumped from the proverbial frying pan into the fire. Chrysler was a dying company with no effective management systems in place (Lee, 2007). Iacocca does not hesitate to do the right thing no matter how difficult it may be.
In spite of criticisms and other negative publicity, he knocked at the doors of Congress for aid when his efforts could no longer save Chrysler from bankruptcy. His efforts were rewarded and the Congress agreed to help Chrysler. From then on, his leadership was considered to be one of the best in the world. As a leader, Iacocca made a lot of sacrifices just to save Chrysler. He declared his salary to be one dollar a year, thereby paving the way for his asking his employees to sacrifice a part of their salary so they can save the company.
When Chrysler managed to rise again, he slowly brought back the salary levels. He says that every good leader should learn how to sacrifice. That would also set an example among employees. He truly became a leader worth following and emulating (Lapham, 2008). Henry Ford II Henry Ford II became the heir to the company that his namesake founded. He served as the President of Ford Motor Company from 1945 to 1960. From 1960 to 1979, he was the Chief Executive Officer and the Chairman of the Board. After that he served as Chairman for several years.
His management style could be described as aggressive. He fired any executive or company official whose performance was not satisfactory for him. At the beginning of his management career, he did not have much experience in management. For that reason, he looked for several executives to help him do the job (Sorensen & Williamson, 1956). HF2, as Henry Ford II was known, also hired the “Whiz Kids”, a group of ten young persons who showed a lot of promise and business intelligence. Among the Whiz Kids were Robert McNamara and Arjay Miller who also became presidents of Ford Motor Company.
J. Edward Lundy was another member who helped establish the financial stability and reputation of Ford Motor Company. Through his example, Henry Ford II showed that a leader should surround himself with the best of people so as to make sure that the management process is not compromised by inexperience. His Whiz Kids also showed that Henry Ford II was willing to develop new breed of leaders under his wings so that they could help the company build its fortune. Under the leadership of Henry Ford II, Ford Motors became a publicly traded corporation in 1956.
This meant that the Ford Company risked letting go of their control in the corporation. This was also a first step towards not having a Ford family member at the helm of the corporation. Twenty years after HF2’s leadership, William Clay Ford Jr. assumed the Presidency and the Chairmanship of the Board (Muller & Fahey, 2006). Henry Ford II’s leadership style was not very consistent, however. There were times that he let his temper get the best of him. When Lee Iacocca was president of the company and he suggested adopting the new engines of Honda, Ford said that he did not want a Japanese engine in any of Ford cars.
A few years later, he fired Iacocca out of personal disagreements and disputes. When Ford offered company shares publicly, he managed to raise more than $650 million. The problem, however, is that almost half of this money was lost on a pet project experimental car called Edsel. Nonetheless, Henry Ford II’s influence on the company was great. Through his efforts, Ford became the fourth major industrial company in the United States by the time he retired (Hayes, 1990). Personal disputes in any given company are difficult to avoid.
However, there are a number of ways how to deal with such disputes without threatening the situation of the company. Henry Ford II, however, had not dealt very well with personal disputes such as the one he had with Iacocca. If he handled such disputes well, he could have retained Iacocca and ensured the rise of good cars and implemented good marketing strategy. In any case, Henry Ford II was still one of the greatest presidents of Ford Motor Company who helped the company rise to levels it has not attained before.Such achievement is not an easy task to fulfill.
Reference Hayes, W. (1990). Henry: A Life of Henry Ford II. New Jersey: Grove Pr. Iacocca, Lee (2007). Where Have All the Leaders Gone. New York: Scribner. Iacocca, L. & Novak, W. (1986). Lee Iacocca: An Autobiography. New York: Bantam. Lapham, E. (2008). Iacocca Tip: “Equality of Sacrifice. ” Automotive News, 83 (6335), 2. Muller, J. & Fahey, J. (2006). Familial Relations. Forbes, 178 (49-52). Sorensen, C. & Williamson, S. T. (1956). My Forty Years with Ford. New York: Norton.
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