Tag Archives: Ford

May 8, 2014 | dlauer | Tagged ,

Fields’ First 100 Days Starts Now

It’s official. Mark Fields will soon take the helm of one of America’s most iconic corporations of all time. And just as it is for any new chief executive, the pressure is on. All eyes will be on Fields’ every move, ears hanging on every last word, interpreting the hidden, strategic connection to layoffs, cuts, sluggish sales, or whatever the anxious situation du jour may be. The “first 100 days” – often thought of as the most critical period with the ability to make or break the reputation of a new CEO – has already started, even before his first cup of coffee in the corner office.

Once thought of as a CEO’s “honeymoon period”, the first 100 days has become nothing short of a test, and unfortunately, easing into it is not an option. In fact, now more than ever, the first two months leading up to the official start date plays a more integral role in the perceived success or failure of a new CEO’s reputation tenure. For Fields specifically, this is a time for strategy and planning…not necessarily for Ford, but for his own, personal leadership approach.

So what should he be doing starting today?

CREATE AN AMBASSADOR NETWORK. This is the time to ensure relationships are shored up where they will be needed most. It can be lonely at the top, and Fields or any chief decision maker needs a trusted inner circle consisting of confidants in marketing and communications, legal, HR and especially the Board of Directors. Getting to know now what motivates employees, developing a shared vision for the brand and understanding the expectations of the Board and its preferences in terms of communicating and working together will be invaluable to building long-term equity with these influential groups.

LISTEN, AND LISTEN SOME MORE. There will be plenty of time when Fields will be expected by the public (investors, customers, pundits, industry influencers) to speak his mind – on everything from sales in Canada to production forecasts on the new F-150 pick-up – but this is a rare moment where Fields can actually do more listening than talking and not be criticized for it. I suggest he continue to do more of what he and CFO Shanks are already doing – conducting field visits around the Ford map to talk with employees, customers and ask questions. Listen to the answers and leverage them to inform the long-term strategy everyone will be so eagerly waiting to hear when the time is right.

HONE YOUR LEADERSHIP STYLE. Fields has won the recognition and respect (and now vote of confidence from his peers) that he is capable of penning the next chapter in Ford’s history. As accomplished and proven as Fields’ contributions as COO have been to the Ford Company, he still has some very big visionary shoes to fill upon Alan Mulally’s departure. Being a great leader is more than great execution. Inspiration has just become a significant part of Fields’ job description. A dynamic CEO can build trust and equity for the brand, and now is the time for Fields to consider the legacy he wishes to leave at Ford. This begins with a deep and thoughtful dive into the platforms Fields wants to be associated with, the areas of the job he feels most passionate about, and, ultimately, the point of view and messaging that will both authenticate and differentiate him.

We’ll be rooting for Fields as he transitions into his new role. The good news is he’s embarking on a well-paved path, thanks to Mulally’s successful turnaround. He’s a long-time Blue Oval veteran, he understands and lives the culture and for many new CEOs, this is half the battle. The question we’ll all wait to see answered is … what will Fields’ legacy be?

December 29, 2011 | cwinters | Tagged , , , , , , ,

2011’s Reputation Winners

Reputation building requires relevance – sometimes that relevance comes from an event in the news, and sometimes it is created and crafted by the choices, statements and actions of individuals. History is filled with examples of reputations ruined in a single action or in a brief news cycle, and 2011 was no different. (Watch for that blog soon).

But winning the reputation battle…that is another story altogether. Here’s my list of reputation winners of 2011 – who would you add?

  • NYC as a tech hub – the success of FourSquare, Twitter’s NY office and Facebook’s plan to come to NY in 2012 have put NYC back on the map as a legitimate technology center.
  • Tablet Computing – sure, Apple still dominates the category – but the holiday success and popularity of the Kindle Fire and Samsung’s Galaxy Tab have taken Tablets from a product (the iPad) to a category.
  • Populism and mass protest – three letters – OWS. But this wasn’t the only movement that captured attention this year – think about the protests over Russia’s elections, the Arab Spring or even India’s anti-corruption movement.
  • The British Monarchy – there is nothing like a royal wedding to make an out of date institution like the monarchy relevant again. Will and Kate have captured the hearts of the public in a way we haven’t seen since Princess Diana.
  • Social Media – no longer the wild, wild, west – social media’s acceptance in the mainstream world and in the board room makes it a big winner of 2011.
  • NCAA Basketball – scandals in college football and an NBA lockout made college basketball the darling of winter sports – where the love of the game rules the day.
  • Steve Jobs – The untimely passing of Steve Jobs, and the insight into the long range plans he left behind for Apple has taken an iconic leader of our time and made him even larger and more iconic than when we was living.
  • Google’s Sergy Brin – taking back the reigns of Google and tackling tough issues like China while restoring Google’s focus on the ideas that work is helping Google get its mojo back. Let’s watch Google+ in 2012.
  • GM, Ford and the American Automotive industry – Once the industry America loved to hate, complete with CEOs taking private jets to Washington to ask for a bailout, the American Automotive industry is on the rise, fueled by bold leadership by CEOs like Dan Akerson, who dares to say out loud what many just think, or Alan Mulalley, who arguably led the industry’s reputation turnaround.
  • Lady Gaga – once known simply for her eccentricity (meat dress, anyone?), Lady Gaga has emerged as a leading equality advocate – for LGBT issues and for anti-bullying in general.
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