Tesla makes a very good car and has certainly created high interest in electric vehicles. On the other hand, it’s amazing how regularly the Tesla leader will over-promise and then under-deliver, getting the company into trouble with Wall Street investors. Recently he did it again. Let’s take a look at the details and see what leadership lessons might emerge.
Bob's Gutsy Leadership Blog
Bob regularly writes blog posts and articles with his areas of focus being leadership, organizational effectiveness. Below you will find the titles and hot-links of his most recent efforts:
The big news at Ford recently was the firing of the CEO who had been in place for three years. The stimulus for this is the fact that Ford’s business is suffering. Specifically, the first quarter of 2017 saw Ford’s pre-tax profits decrease by -35% versus year ago. Ford’s stock has under-performed GM’s by almost 25 percentage points over the past year. In the three year tenure of the departing CEO, Ford’s stock is down -37%.
Uber, the ride hailing service, has been a remarkable success. This competitor to the traditional taxi business now operates in 570 cities worldwide. On the other hand, the company faces an enormous number of issues, many of which are self-inflicted.
Whole Foods was founded in 1980 by its current Chairman and CEO and for three decades was the preeminent organic grocery brand. It was quite successful as consumers began to crave organic and natural foods. For years Whole Foods was able to command significantly higher prices for its organic alternatives.
Private equity (PE) firms are different. They invest in companies with the intent of quickly improving their efficiency and profitability. They then either sell the company for a big profit or keep it for a period of time, enjoying the cash flows that are coming from it. When they recruit talent, they are very disciplined in requiring specific traits they know are critical to success. Recently a massive study was done across 32 private equity firms to isolate those traits.
The primary job of a leader is to constantly assess the situation, develop an impactful plan that will make a significant difference, and then implement with excellence. Being a leader is not about simply managing a bunch of activities that enable you to participate in some manner in what’s going on in your industry. Unfortunately, that’s what the IBM CEO, who has been in the job five years now, seems to be doing.
Gillette has dominated the razor business for decades. They have religiously followed a narrow strategy of adding new features and convincing consumers via advertising that they are worth the increased price. In the last three years Gillette has had some competition. It came in the form of low cost shave clubs and surprisingly, Gillette just continued to introduce new, pricier products; for example, a razor with a swiveling ball hinge that allows the blade to pivot. Its latest move was to file a patent application for a razor cartridge that heats up.
One of the hardest things for a leader to do is to terminate a project; even if it has been clear for quite a while that its potential is minimal. Two factors are typically at work; 1) the leader doesn’t want to kill the project because it may appear that he/she has failed; and 2) the people assigned to the project will aggressively pressure the leader to continue since they worry about what will happen to them! The result is that most speculative projects end up living far too long of a life before they either die a natural death or the leader gets up enough courage to admit that this one didn’t work out.
Toshiba was founded in 1873 as Japan’s first maker of telegraph equipment. Its reputation grew over the years as it became the countries first producer of lightbulbs and eventually into a behemoth that manufactures everything from washing machines to medical equipment and computer chips.
There is nothing really surprising coming out of this research, but it is a great reminder of what it takes to inspire an organization and lead it to achieve a significant impact.