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Can any new boss fix General Motors? December 2, 2009

Posted by John M McKee in "John M McKee", business intelligence, business strategy, career planning, Coaching, executive coach, leadership coach, business consultant, career advice, Veracity, Women.

The recent news out of General Motors indicates that change is in the air. In this article, international executive and leadership coach John M McKee shares an new approach that the company may want to consider.


I believe that great leaders can accomplish what others believe is impossible.  I’ve seen it happen firsthand.

But I also accept that an organization’s culture – that combination of people, structure, policies and procedures as well as attitudes and values- can slow down, or stop cold, even the most gifted executive.

Can GM be fixed?  Not sure.  Back in July of 2008 I said that it was likely that the US auto industry was on the verge of tanking.  Can it ever achieve the lofty goals that the Board and Chairman Ed Whitacre believe are appropriate?  Just think about the task that the person who replaces Fritz Henderson has ahead of him/her:

1. Create cars that people really want and which can go toe-to-toe with world brands like Toyota and Infiniti in terms of appeal, quality and style, as well as Hyundai on the value equation.  Not to mention Ford’s resurrection under Alan Mulally.

2. Create a corporate culture that is fast, caring, and fixated on a single goal as opposed to one that has many goals, is slow, and fixated on other’s peccadilloes.

3. Pay back the US and CDN governments in a timely fashion (and get them off the back of the company in doing so.)

4. Grow the company in Europe and China at the same rate as Brazil.

5. Maintain a minimum US market share of about 20% with fewer brands and retail outlets than it had a year ago.

6. Make money.

The new CEO is going to have to be great in many aspects of leadership.  I wrote about a few of those on this blog over a year ago.

When it’s all said and done, dumping former boss Fritz Henderson was probably always in the cards.  It gives the company more breathing room, allows them to look like they are being proactive at the same time.  But whether any single guy can actually fix the company may be simply too much for any one individual.

Perhaps it’s time to let a woman run an auto company – recent stats note that women are the primary decision makers in most car purchases now. And we sure need some new ideas if The General is to survive.

Looking forward!




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