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GM CEO creating a new generation

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in Leaders & Managers

In updating General Motors’ plodding company culture, CEO Edward E. Whitacre Jr. is trying to make the company more nimble—in a makeover akin to converting a family wagon into a Corvette.

At a recent Friday huddle, Whitacre met with top lieutenants who asked him to approve plans for a new generation of cars and trucks. As they waited to present pictures, charts and financial projections, Whitacre stopped them.

“Y’all have checked all this out pretty thoroughly,” he said. “I imagine you’re not going to approve something that’s bad or unprofitable, so why don’t you make the final decisions?”

GM must change the way it operates if it hopes to pay back a $6.7 billion U.S. Treasury loan. Pushing authority and decision-making down into its vast organization is one way Whitacre—or any other leader—can cut bureaucracy and create a leaner, meaner organization.

— Adapted from “GM’s Plodding Culture Vexes Its Impatient CEO,” Sharon Terlep, The Wall Street Journal.

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