By Jim Clark, PhD – Director of Student Sidelines LLC © 2019
One recommendation is to read My Years with General Motors, by Alfred P Sloan, Jr.
He was an amazing leader in many ways. Often regarded as an introvert engineer who would rather work with numbers than talk to people, he intuitively understood how to nurture people in a complex organization. He was largely responsible for GM’s significant growth, during otherwise challenging times. Here are a few take aways from his experience:
- Respect people, all people
- Trust people to make good choices if they understand the consequences
- Hold people accountable - very firmly
- Use synergy to foster sound decision making
Let me illustrate. He partitioned GM into divisions, along product lines, and to some extent, geography. For each division he empowered the team to use the most effective and efficient methods for producing results. If they could buy parts more economically outside of GM than from another division at GM, do it - in spite of upset that it might cause.
Every month, each division was to have a “Sloan Meeting” in which every level of the organization was to be represented at the table. Ideas, and concerns were to be offered by everyone at the table. He would show up, without notice, to scheduled meetings at divisions and if the meeting was not held, nor every level of the team represented at the table, he would immediately fire whomever was in charge. In that way he was uncompromising and nearly ruthless.
Think about those two points mentioned above. What do they embody? In fact, they typify all four of the take away. He trusted people, with a firm hand.