I learned a profound leadership lesson both from a story of Henry Ford shared by JC Maxwell. It is the lesson of people center leadership. The challenge that badly affected the Ford motor in the later year of her founder is still around but I hope business leaders will experience a paradigm shift with this article.
Objectively, Henry Ford is the revolutionary of the automobile industry and a legend in automobile business history. "I will build a motor car for the multitude"-Henry Ford
Yes! Henry Ford executed his vision with Model T and by the year 1914, Ford produced about 50 percent of all automobiles in America. The Ford story soon became stale as there was no significant improvement in Ford motor business for about two decades because Henry Ford undermined his leaders and didn't believe in their capability to redesigned Model T automobile.
History revealed that Henry became the exact opposite of an empowering leader. It was so bad that he created a sociological department within the company to close up on his employees and direct their private lives.
After a consistent loss of revenue, Henry finally stepped down for his son as the president of Ford Motors yet Henry undermined him. Ford motors within this period lost many of its best executives and market leadership in the industry.
Dear business leader, it is worthy of note that your business responsibility shifts to people business the moment your idea develops and attracts people to work in the company. Your new responsibility will then become discovering, empowering, and leveraging on other peoples strength for market relevance.
President T Roosevelt once said: "The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and the self restraints enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it"
For a business leader to serve the interest of her company and team there is need to allow individual express his or her creativity and this has differentiated a lot of businesses either startup or established.
The differentiator in any company is the quality of executive mental models that apply creativity to problem-solving. So how do you do that? It is by empowerment.
Differentiator 1: Empower the inexperienced workers.
The word empowerment is more than putting people in the classroom for an executive coach to speak to them. Empowerment, truly, is a process of supporting business executives to realise and claim personal power for effective participation in the corporate mission. Part of the process is teaching and another crucial one is the correct placement.
I had the opportunity to facilitate service improvement for Panrock Peterson Medical Hospital located in Ijebu Ode south west Nigeria. It was a time of crucial conversation and presentation for the executives and the medical director. While the executive conversation session ended, the team members gained the confidence to give helpful feedback to one another.
The core problem they discovered was wrong placement among administrative staff. We noted that people who were recruited into office that conflict with their temperament or personality slowed down business activities.
Differentiator 2: lead the experienced workers effectively
Experienced workers, other than remuneration look forward to qualitative leadership and respect from a business leader.
The grandson of Henry Ford known as Henry Ford II made this leadership mistake when he took over as the president of Ford motors with his best hired Eric Breech who is an experienced General Motors executive. Breech was hired to turn Ford motors around and he succeeded in good time record. The success of Breech and the team he brought along to Ford motor made Henry Ford II to worry about his position as the president of the company. What was Henry Ford II solution? He began pitting one top executive against another until many executives were fired from the company.
The good way to lead experience workers is to enlarge their experience opportunity, gaining their respect and stretch their ability with responsibilities.
Differentiator 3: Empower the experienced workers
A business leader must come to term with a reality that an average experienced worker has knowledge that she brings into the business. She has his means of production, which is knowledge, and it is important to find out what really matters to her. One of common interest of experienced worker is career improvement and fulfillment. Empower her!
"Great leaders gain authority by giving it away" James B. Stockdale
It is my desire that you win in businesses by helping your business executives win every day.