When Mulally joined Ford as CEO in 2006, the company was facing a $17 billion loss. Alan spearheaded a culture shift that turned the company around to post a $2 billion profit and the stock value rose ten-fold.
Alan explained that to inspire a company to achieve, its leader must exhibit humility, love for team members and customers, and a dedication to service. Only then can every employee be brought together around a compelling vision and a comprehensive strategy for achieving it.
Share a Compelling vision, every day – An effective leader is responsible for developing a clear vision that every team member can get behind, not just a few key people. Only a group of talented people working together can realize that vision and good leaders show everybody that they are wanted and needed, every day. This is exhibited in multiple ways, including body language and listening more than talking. Great leaders desire to understand more than to be understood.
Have fun working together towards a goal – Achieving a vision depends upon clear performance goals using facts and data. Employees should never be fearful of sharing when they struggle or they will hide their struggles and let them fester. The expected behaviors of every participant are respect, trust, and appreciation for each other. Working toward goals should be fun and participants are encouraged to enjoy the journey and work together — but never allow humor at anybody’s expense because that detracts from a safe environment and always inhibits progress.
Focus on relentless implementation discipline– Meeting weekly to discuss progress and address areas of challenge is mandatory to success. Be adaptable in what actions are necessary based on new data coming from the outside to remain market-driven in approach and ensure that you are creating products that enhance consumers’ lives. No leader is an expert at every discipline required to achieve this and the leader’s role is to hold the team and themselves accountable for behaviors that lead to achieving the best results.
John Maxwell took note of how Alan implemented this methodology to achieve phenomenal results as CEO and boiled them down to three simple questions that every leader should ask regularly:
How open am I as a leader? This will determine how open people are back with you and willing to share what is really happening in the company.
How realistic am I as a leader? Coming from a place of love and providing the resources and help people need to solve problems is core to any company’s success.
How humble am I as a leader? Are you keeping customers and employees in front of you at all times and showing them that they are essential? The humble leader facilitates people from different disciplines working together.
Alan’s Favorite Implementation Tool? Business Plan Reviews
One of Alan Mulally favorite tools during his tenure at Ford was the business plan review (BPR). BPR’s are weekly meetings where company leaders use color-coded charts to update each other on their progress and collaborate on solving problems. The BPR creates a powerful routine and a sharing, collaborate environment that helps implement the vision of the leader.