Ford: A lesson in leadership

Ford: A lesson in leadership

Published on: October 6, 2021

Henry Ford was an American automobile manufacturer who created the Ford Model T car and went on to develop the assembly line mode of production, which revolutionized the industry. He was a revolutionary automobile industry innovator and legend in the American business history. He co-founded Ford Motor Company with the belief that the future of the automobile lay in putting it within the reach of the average American worker.

Henry Ford fulfilled that vision with the model T. By 1914, Ford was delivering almost half of all automobiles in the United States. The Ford Motor Company sounds like a success story but there’s a flipside to it.
The immense success proved that Ford’s model was perfect, believing completely in his idea, Ford never looked ahead.

One day, a group of designers surprised him by presenting him with the prototype of an improved model, Ford furiously ripped its doors off the hinges and proceeded to destroy the car with his bare hands.

After 20 years, Henry Ford finally consented to offer an updated automobile to the general population. The organization created a Model A however it was staggeringly behind its rivals in technical innovations. In spite of the company’s initial head start and lead over its competitors, Ford Motor Company’s offers continued contracting. By 1931, it was down to just 28 percent.

To make sure things were smooth sailing, Henry Ford continuously looked over the shoulders of his people. He even made a department to look into his people’s lives and direct their personal lives. Whenever a promising leader was rising up in his company, Henry tore him down. As a result, the company kept losing its best executives.

This approach is essentially flawed, colleagues and employees can never be monitored. One must have deep trust and belief in them and their potential. How an employee leads their life is not the company’s job or responsibility. Perhaps privacy should be given more importance in companies.
Moreover, leaders should be identified, built up, they should be given resources, authority and responsibility. Leaders must also learn to change with times, as illustrated above, Henry Ford’s refusal to grow with times led to the company’s downfall years later.

President Theodore Roosevelt said, “The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self-restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it.”
To lead others well, we must help them reach their potential. This means being on their side, encouraging them, giving them power and helping them succeed

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