(Here at the Willow Creek Global Leadership Summit praying for God to give me new insight to help me in leading with Operation Christmas Child)
The Art of Working Together
As an aeronautical engineer I joined Boeing and was able to serve on the team for the development of every aircraft. An average commercial airplane has around 4 million parts so over the years I’ve learned about working together.
Working Together Principles and Practices
--Everyone is included
--Compelling vision, comprehensive strategy and relentless implementation
--Clear performance goals
--Facts & Data
--Everyone know the plan, the status, and areas that need special attention
--Propose a plan, positive, “find a way” attitude
--Respect, listen, help, and appreciate each other
--Emotional resilience—trust the process
--Have fun—enjoy the journey and each other (humor can never be at anyone else’s expense)
Thought I would always stay at Boeing, then I got a call from Bill Ford at Ford Motor Company. Having purchased many other brands their branding was diffused and there was no synergy between companies. Consumer tastes were changing and the market wanted smaller vehicles. Ford has become a fast follower instead of a leader in technology. They were losing money on every brand and every vehicle. I left my job as CEO at Boeing to become CEO at Ford Motor Company. I noticed there were no Ford vehicles in the employee parking garage. I think I was the first CEO hired from outside of the automobile industry.
We went to work. I selected leaders for each of the divisions around the world—16 of them. They’d never been in a room together. We got together and I shared the plan with them. We found our vision in Henry Ford’s vision to “open the highways to all mankind”—not just the wealthy.
We then worked on strategy on the brands—Ford and Lincoln—for a complete family of vehicles with each one being ‘best in class’. We agreed we’d serve all markets around the world and would aggressively restructure the business and would accelerate development of new vehicles despite the economic slowdown. We raised 23+ billion dollars to finance this.
We instituted business plan reviews and at the first review we anticipated losing 17 billion dollars. When problem areas were identified, I encouraged them to be labeled as problems. When those problem areas were identified by placing them in red charts it identified them visually and helped others collaborate to solve them. In a few weeks some of those problems were solved and others felt confident enough to label their problems with red charts. I knew everything would be okay.
The company became healthier and sales increased. Let’s give a shout out to Ford store owners. I brought them all to Detroit when I began. I asked the Ford employees to look at the store owners and say “We love you.” All of the store owners knew it would be different and we would all work together.
We used to be rated as the worst auto company to work for and now we are number two. We’ve increased the dividend five times.
When we started 42% of all Ford employees had positive feelings about the company they work for. That means 58% of all employees were just coming to work for the pay check and not to “build a cathedral”. But now the percentage of those with positive feelings is 98%.
Through the worst economic time since the depression we did not ask for or need any precious taxpayer money.
Thank you to Willow Creek for inviting me and giving me the chance to hear your stories.
Leadership is needed in our world now more than ever. We’re going to move from “I” to “we” and from “me” to service. I wish you each a fantastic leadership journey.