Armen Chakmakjian

GM Chairman: He believes in “Strong Leadership”?

In Business & Finance, history on July 11, 2009 at 12:16 am

OK so I was listening to a GM press conference on CNBC this morning.  The CEO was updating the fact that there were going to be 4 products lines (Chevy, Buick, Caddy and GMC).  Awesome, sounds like the right mix.  Sounds like they can now focus.  He talked about the new products themselves going from 48 to 34.   More focus.  Excellent.  Really concentrating on the problem, the proposed solution, and who the key players were (dealerships, experimental marketing on EBAY, his head of PD for all GM products).  Specific examples.  Even got me fired up that maybe this was a turning point.  This is an example of a strong situational leader.

Then he turned over the mic to the Chairman.  This guy rambled on about touring the company and job losses and platitudes on how GM will return to its glory days.  Great.  But he made a statement that always gets me pissed off.  Whenever I hear someone say “I believe in Strong Leadership” I get turned inside out.

Firstly, I think everyone but anarachists believe in leadership, and most want strong leadership (unless they’re waiting for someone to crumble…then I supposed you’d want someone to be a weak leader).  We may differ on what “strong” means, but lets assume that most of us look to people in positions of leadership and we expect them to act accordingly.  I also expect the janitor to clean thoroughly and doctors to heal completely.

Secondly, the word “I” in his statement.  “I believe in strong leadership”  He didn’t qualify it except to imply that he himself was going to be a strong leader because he “accepted” the position because he knew GM was a great company and would be. He didn’t say that the cadre of leaders he picked are all the strongest leaders in the industry or whatever.  It seemed all about him…

I truly have no idea what the hell he was talking about.  I’m not passing judgment on GM’s past present or future.  I just think that statements like “I believe in strong leadership” are wasted statements.  I’ve never heard anyone get up in a leadership position and say “I believe in weak leadership”…

When people get up and say things like that, especially starting with an “I”, I liken them to a description that I read in a biography of Teddy Roosevelt about a Speaker of the House in the late 1800’s who described long winded speakers as “strenuously exuding wind, accompanied by speech”

Sorry for my rant…I’m happy GM is out of bankruptcy and leaner and meaner.


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