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.
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.
So, one thing is to be remembered. Each and every person wishes nothing sort of success for oneself. Hence at every moment the customer looks for a product better than present. Whoever satisfies this demand succeeds. Another is constant product upgradations shows them their chosen brand is alive.
Hence success is in no way a destination but a continuous journey. Not for nothing they say. To succeed is one thing but to remain at that position is a completely other thing.
There was one action which Henry ford used to take to slow down his competitors and his own 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 in his company, Henry tore him down.
This resulted in only accelerating the company’s descent, the company kept losing its best executives.
His approach was essentially flawed. Watch one’s product. Listen to customers. There is lot to decipher from their silence too. On the other hands, 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. Privacy must be given utmost importance in companies.
Moreover, best leaders routinely identify new leaders by giving people resources, authority and responsibility.
Also, as company grows leaders must also learn to change. We can see here how with times, Henry Ford refused to grow. This ultimately 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.”
So, the lesson’s learned to become good leaders:
1) Believe product and customer relationship is very dynamic. The change is necessary to be measured, understood, and implemented. Product has to be under development virtually for ever.
2) People work best when they are trusted, and their privacy not disturbed. Otherwise, their efficiency is lost much before one finally loses them.
3) Humility, open eyes, humanity and planned succession is a pre-requisite for maintaining long term leadership.
These points mean, we must listen to employees and help them reach their potential. This requires the leader to be on their side, encouraging them, giving them power and helping them succeed.