Kind leadership produces results

’The way that people feel might be the most important thing for both personal and to the success of the team. People must know that you care about them, so show them appreciation regularly. Say ”thank you” often enough. Find things to celebrate. Treat people with respect.’ says the CEO of Ford, Alan Mulally (Schwartz, Gomes & McCarthy 2010).

According to the Economist (2013/1/19), Mulally also lives the way he teaches. He gives hugs, and is completely genuine. He is the manager that you want to give your best to. Mulally does not blaim, but he still takes action on flaws. During his time, politicizing has ended at Ford. Nowadays people do not get each others’ backs, but responsibility is openly taken for problems.

This has also lead into results. When Mulally became in charge of Ford 2006, the American car industry had been in trouble for several years already. GM and Chrysler had to take support from the government, but Ford did not need this aid. In 2011, the Financial Times picked Mulally as the person of the year (Wikipedia). The Economist (2013/1/19) tells how the three great ones have managed to turn to good direction under the new kind of leadership. According to an appreciated British magazine, it is however Mulally who has most potential to join the group of great car leaders with Henry FordAlfred Sloan and Walter Chrysler. Something unique has been achieved in Ford’s leadership. Maybe kindness has been the key advantage?

Good manners and kindness are certainly not self-evident. In working life, the attention is often drawn to ‘hard business’, but the fresh Harvard Business Review (January-February 2013) handles the price of incivility (The Price of Incivility, p. 114-121) in one of its articles. Christine Porath and Christine Pearson introduce a group of credible reasons for acting nicely. Impolite behavior appeared according to Porath’s and Pearson’s research in the following way:

– 48 % intentionally decreased their efforts at work
– 47 % intentionally decreased the time spent at
– 38 % intentionally decreased the quality of their work
– 80 % spent their working time on thinking about the negative incident
– 78 % told that their commitment had decreased

’But we do not yell at each other or execute cruelty’, somebody might think. But incivility doesn’t always appear in such obvious ways, in fact more often it’s about pure inconsideration. The manager might take credit for success, but blames someone else for failures or sends an email in the middle of a presentation.  These small acts might be even more harmful, because they are not that obvious and so they are not paid that much attention to. However, the moral suffers in the end. According to Porath and Pearson a place of growth to a manager might for example be offering good example, asking feedback and paying attention to questions.

There has been a lot of talk about the management style of Steve Jobs, which apparently was quite authoritarian. You hear people tell how Steve might yell and act very rudely. Maybe he could afford it, the guy was after all a genius. But you might not have the same back up for yourself. Maybe you shouldn’t take influence on everything from Steve Jobs, but rather from Alan Mulally.


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