A Thought Leader Takes the Helm at Ford

jim hacket
Photo: AP/Associated Press

Autonomous Cars, Effortless Ownership, Luxury of Time, Chauffeur Service, Value of Time, these are all things valued by Ford and its leadership, appeared to have run out of time for shareholders and Ford’s board members.

Detroit’s own, Ford Motor Company, today made a shift in leadership. Mark Fields the CEO since 2014 is being replaced by board member and officer Jim Hackett.

Mark Fields is a good leader, and one who did a good job of managing leaders in the company, but failed to better quantify the revenue and growth potential of Ford’s investments in new technologies, as a part of its broader plan; autonomous cars, car sharing and chauffeur service, etc. One area of weakness, or strength, depending upon one’s perspective, is the diversification of Ford beyond its core business. It is argued by many business experts that the further a company gets beyond its core business, the smaller its profit margins become. Be that as it may, apparently, the real reason for Mark’s dismissal was the declining stock price over his tenure, and not because of the true value of Ford itself. There is truth to the old adage, “perception is reality.”

Jim Hackett, an officer of the company, and head of its Smart Mobility Innovation Unit, since 2016, will be the new incoming CEO. Hackett will have to effectively manage not only the value and vision, that Mark Field has built over the past 3 years, but he will have to navigate Wall Street’s perception of that vision itself. Hackett may do good to look at the lesson from Tesla Automotive. Tesla, a company that has less company value and sells only a minuet fraction of vehicles as Ford, but yet, Tesla’s Market capitalization is leading the American auto industry. “Tesla’s market cap is more about belief, not evidence, it is about faith, not things seen,” as stated by Cory Johnson of Bloomberg news. Faith preaching to wall street analyst and the media may be beneficial to Hackett if he is to maintain at the helm. I suspect, based upon my knowledge of Jim Hackett, he will be that much needed evangelist.

Peter Diamanidis and Steve Kotler asked the question, in their book, Abundance “The future is better than you Think,” and what will make human thrives in the future? I contend it is leaders like Jim Hackett that will help lead the way. I first met Jim Hackett at a social meeting when he was still the CEO of Steelcase Furniture. I had the opportunity to have an extensive conversation with him about football, life and the future of world. He impressed me as one that had not only the business acumen, and people talent, beyond most, but he impressed me as one of the deep social thinkers of our day. Jim is one of those leaders that you rarely see or come across, and when you do, you treasure it. I think Ford sees what we, who knew him, see; Greatness.

I see Jim as the one who will lead Ford and the Auto Industry to higher heights. Farewell to Mark Fields, we appreciate and honor what he has done for Ford and Detroit during his tenure. Detroit and the world welcomes the Jim Hackett era at Ford with great expectation and anticipation.

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