When Alan Mulally took over as Ford’s CEO in 2006, the company was in tough shape. It had lost a large piece of its market share, and none of its brands were performing well. Development lagged behind other automakers, and labour union costs limited competition at home and overseas.
Now, eight years later, Mulally has retired from Ford, but many will exemplify his leadership skills for years.
Mulally had the ability to drive new thinking. He changed the structure of Ford’s teams and encouraged more collaboration, so innovation thrived under his direction. Managers started asking for help and teams tackled problems together. Mulally was transparent and shared how things really were.
As we begin a new year, organisations are under similar pressure to perform. Revenues are dropping, costs are increasing, and business leaders are being asked to do more with less.
Many business leaders feel unprepared and lack confidence in a time when the market is uncertain and complex. But the experience of others holds powerful lessons for managers who find themselves in similar circumstances.
Let’s see how certain skills, exemplified by leaders like Mulally, will inspire similar greatness this coming year.
Address Generational Differences
Develop strategies that take advantage of the strengths of multiple generations. For example, millennials are team players and high achievers. Plus, they are technologically savvy.
Be aware of these differences and make the most of the value each generation brings to work. Give your team the opportunity to prove themselves. It also lets you see who you can trust with more important tasks and who will be proactive when you take a step back.
Lead Across Countries and Cultures
Acquire the specific skills needed to operate in a global marketplace. You need employees who can deal with uncertainty, have clear interactions, and make decisions in unfamiliar environments.
Embrace Collective Leadership
In the past, if a person was successful, the company was also successful. But times have changed. Today the strength of great leaders resides in how well they guides and motivates those they lead. Embrace the idea that innovation and success come from a collective network of individuals.
Diversify Your Talent Pool
If you want to increase revenue and expand your market share, bring different ideas to the table to change. Step away from the normal pool of candidates and diversify your talent. You may just change the current climate of your company.
Communicate a Set Vision
Be transparent about the business. Share the company’s financial position and be honest about what it will take to get to the next level. You don’t need to divulge every detail, but trust in your team. That trust will inspire them to work harder because they feel a sense of ownership.
Put the Process First
Every company is concerned about the bottom line, but a good leader demands results to achieve goals. Be aware that if you monitor results, positive milestones will follow.
Don’t Lose Sight of Greater Goals
It is easy to forget long-term goals doing the same tasks day in and day out. Your employees may feel that their work is getting lost in the bigger picture. It is an employee’s job to complete assigned tasks, and the leader’s job to make sure that employees complete those assigned duties. However, how often are employees reminded of the significance of what they are doing?
Make sure each employee is aware of how their contribution is adding value to the company’s greater goals.
Creating and maintaining a culture like this is hard work. You need to live the culture. You need to promote constant communication and be transparent to create the best business solutions.
Alan Mulally helped his employees understand the company’s vision. He emphasized teamwork and taught employees to believe in themselves during a difficult time at Ford. His leadership led the company to 19 consecutive quarters of growth and the strongest line-up in Ford’s history.
Try some of these suggestions, and you could inspire similar results at your company.
Contact us if you would like some assistance with business planning.