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Exploring Leadership in the News with Steven Pearlstein and Raju Narisetti

THE QUESTION

What More Could Auto Execs Have Done?

They came up with specific turnaround plans, got the union to agree to concessions, offered to cut their own pay and then drove themselves to Washington. In leadership terms, what else could the Big Three chiefs have done, internally or externally, to convince Congress to take the political risk to help them avoid bankruptcy?

Posted by Ben Bradlee and Steve Pearlstein on December 8, 2008 8:44 PM
FROM THE PANEL

Blame the Boards

Rather than second-guessing the CEOs, let's ask why the boards of directors of these companies have showed so little real leadership.

Posted by Paul R. Portney, on December 11, 2008 9:34 AM

The Deadly Hand of Habit

Success is great -- until it kills you.

Posted by Warren Bennis, on December 10, 2008 10:11 AM

Four Chances for Redemption

The auto executives needed alliances to make the case that their interests are more than self-interests -- and the climate was just right for that.

Posted by Alan M. Webber, on December 8, 2008 9:44 PM
Paul Schmitz

Mobilize Your Constituencies

If a small group of non-profits can rally Congress to action, why can't three major corporations?

Posted by Paul Schmitz, on December 8, 2008 9:29 PM

We Call It "Leadership"

Senior executives are paid to ensure that the company survives in the long-term by making -- and implementing -- choices that preserve the future.

Posted by Charles A. O'Reilly III, on December 8, 2008 9:19 PM

Rally the Troops

Union leader Ron Gettlefinger distinguished himself, but the auto execs should have rallied dealers, creditors and employees.

Posted by Steven Pearlstein, on December 8, 2008 9:07 PM

Less Head, More Heart

In times of turmoil, people support causes they believe in, leaders whom they respect, and arguments that appeal to their hearts as well as their heads.

Posted by William C. Taylor, on December 8, 2008 8:47 PM

The Most Common Leadership Failure

Their failing is the most common of all leadership failings: failure to marshal support for investments that won't pay off until the long-term.

Posted by Bill Shore, on December 8, 2008 7:52 PM

Learning From Missed Opportunities

Four leadership failures in GM's past paved the way for today's life-or-death crisis.

Posted by Michael Useem, on December 8, 2008 7:41 PM

A Moment for Soul-Searching Honesty

These CEOs need to ask themselves tough questions about whether they should stay and help -- or leave.

Posted by Gen. Monty Meigs (Ret.), on December 8, 2008 7:26 PM

The Courage To Be Sorry

As Dr. Phil says, "This family needs a hero." Unfortunately, we don't seem to have any.

Posted by Barbara Kellerman, on December 8, 2008 7:17 PM

Radical Surgery Required

A ten-point plan for making General Motors competitive again.

Posted by Bill George, on December 8, 2008 7:08 PM

Admit That You're Broken

The root cause of their problems is hubris: They thought they were immune from even the most predictable challenges.

Posted by Ed Ruggero, on December 8, 2008 6:48 PM

Get a Vision

They bring to the table a vision of the past, rather than some sense of imagination about the future.

Posted by Barry Posner, on December 8, 2008 6:39 PM

Apologize, Resign and Do Good

Leaders who have been negligent and irresponsible should admit their errors, resign their positions, and devote the next period of their lives to doing good work.

Posted by Howard Gardner, on December 8, 2008 6:21 PM

It's Already Too Late

These companies have been failing for years: Why should we think the future will be different?

Posted by Jeffrey Pfeffer, on December 8, 2008 4:12 PM

Don't Ask Congress

If you have a real business proposition, you don't need help from the Congress.

Posted by Paul H. O'Neill Sr., on December 8, 2008 4:08 PM

More Ambitious Goals

Instead of tinkering around the edges, they should have brought plans to fundamentally retool the auto industry.

Posted by Seth Goldman, on December 8, 2008 4:01 PM

Change the Culture

General Motors can't survive without transformational leadership.

Posted by Michael Maccoby, on December 8, 2008 3:40 PM
Norm R. Augustine

The National Security Angle

One cannot prevail militarily with a service economy alone.

Posted by Norm R. Augustine, on December 8, 2008 3:20 PM

Won't Get Fooled Again?

It is difficult to give leaders a second chance when they do not clearly admit they were wrong, apologize, and convince us they will not make the same mistake again.

Posted by Joanne B. Ciulla, on December 8, 2008 3:08 PM

Pay for Performance

Executives shouldn't work for nothing: They need incentives to meet their new commitments.

Posted by Benjamin W. Heineman, Jr., on December 8, 2008 2:56 PM

Urgency Required

After failing to innovate, the Big Three need to harness a sense of urgency.

Posted by George Reed, on December 8, 2008 2:35 PM

Be Willing to Step Aside

The auto executives need to provide more detailed information -- and signal that they will get out of the way if necessary.

Posted by David Walker, on December 8, 2008 11:12 AM

Sharpen the Plan

The auto execs have paid their penance. Now have to create a workable strategy for saving their industry.

Posted by Abraham Zaleznik, on December 8, 2008 11:07 AM

Reach Out to Rivals

They could have asked foreign competitors with U.S. assembly plants to support their plea on the ground that a vital domestic industry strengthens everyone.

Posted by Slade Gorton, on December 8, 2008 11:04 AM

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FEATURED COMMENTS

jwh: Don't send a sick horse to the races, it'll only gonna cost you. The automobile branch is a example of a very sick horse and so is the weapo...

Lamb Cannon: The republican administration allowed total tax write offs for SUVs for the self-employed and other private businesses. So no big suprrise ...

JJB: The question of what more they could have done is meaningless, all of this talk is a eulogy. We are attending a funeral and when it is over,...

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