Six Lessons from Alan Mulally, CEO of the Year

Posted on July 19, 2011. Filed under: Good Habits, Management Concepts |

Alan Mulally, CEO of Ford Motor Company is Chief Executive’s CEO of the Year. Congratulations Mr. Mulally!  Having navigated a pretty steathy turnaround of the company during the recession – without any TARP bailouts, mind you – he is now poised to grow the company in the better times we hope to see in the future. As I was reading Chief Executive’s article on Mr. Mulally, I came across six lessons that I think everyone in business can learn from him, regardless of your role in your company. Following are the six lessons, with my take on them.

Display courage in the face of adversity –  Each person has challenges in their jobs. Meeting those challenges with courage exemplifies not only the type of person you are, but your outlook and perspective, which become important factors in not only overcoming the challenges, but in overall career success. No one gets too excited about pessimism, but most people will choose to work with (or advance) someone who faces adversity directly and optimistically.

Focus is everything – Understand your priorities and get rid of anything that’s diluting those priorities. Focus your ideas, time, talent, and energy to those things that significantly matter in your business. You’ll see results faster.

Simplify – Messages can become too complex. Information overload does not make decisions easier; stating the bottom-line value does. Work to  make your message, your vision, your mission simple. The more you simplify, the bigger impact you’ll have.

Use the Outsider Advantage – When you’re deep into a project or business, you can lose sight of the forest for the trees. Ask an outsider to come in and provide a different perspective. That perspective might change what you’re doing, or it might validate your direction; regardless, it will definitely add value and dimension to your view and help you see things you may not have seen before.

Reward transparency and collaboration – Why are people so often afraid to say what’s really going on with the business or with their project? Being transparent demonstrates integrity; asking for help (or giving it) through collaboration spurs new ideas and a positive environment for teamwork. Let’s stop being scared to admit less-than-stellar situations and start seeking solutions.

Stay inventive during tough times – While most companies hunker down in the tough times, those savvy enough to take that opportunity to reinvent their products or businesses not only typically find better ways to do things, but also stay top of mind with their clients. Studies have shown over and over again that those companies that stay in front of clients during the tough times are more successful – more quickly – when the economy improves.

Though written for CEOs, you can apply these ideas to any position in any company. But don’t stop there, think about how these six lessons can be applied to your life – I think they work perfectly!

Here’s to better business and richer lives. Thanks Mr. Mulally!





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