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GM, retooling its leadership

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

Looks like General Motors plans to become even more aggressive in attempting a turnaround with the resignation of Frederick “Fritz” Henderson.

The carmaker’s board sees Chairman Edward Whitacre, interim CEO and a former chief at AT&T, as a proactive outsider who has more experience with government oversight, mergers and acquisitions. GM also is looking outside for a new CEO—a dramatic cultural change.

That echoes the strategy at rival automaker Ford.

Henderson, GM’s departing CEO, was known as a turnaround specialist, restructuring Asian operations and trying to patch things up in Europe. He also aired GM’s dirty laundry, which won over government officials looking for extreme change. The carmaker was reorganized in bankruptcy court last year with about $59 billion in U.S. and Canadian loans.

But the question lingers: Is it possible to make a massive cultural shift without new blood?

“It was too much to expect an insider to do what needs to be done at GM,” says John Casesa, a Wall Street auto analyst and former GM planner. “It was asking Fritz to go in and excommunicate a bunch of family members and ask them to choose another religion.”

Bottom line:
Tell us what you think at Should new blood always be a given?

— Adapted from “GM’s Chairman Seizes the Wheel,” John D. Stoll and Kate Linebaugh, The Wall Street Journal.

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