Ford’s CEO On Purpose, Focus, And Leadership

I read an interesting Q&A with Alan Mulally, president and CEO of Ford. What I liked was the way he talks about the  role of a leader. Here are some excerpts from Mulally’s responses:

The more senior your management position is, the more important it is to connect the organization or the project to the outside world… I think the most important thing is coming to a shared view about what we’re trying to accomplish… What are we? What is our real purpose?… and then everybody gets a chance to participate and feel that accomplishment of participating and contributing.

Mulally lists four things that he really focusses on:

  1. Connecting to the outside world — where is the world, technology, customers and competition going?
  2. What business Ford is in; what are they going to focus on?
  3. Balancing the near-term and the long-term; will the plans work in the near term and also create value for the long term?
  4. The values and standards of the organization; what are the expected behaviors?

My take: Mulally provides great insight into leadership; which is quite different from management. Getting a large organization to work together in a way that drives value isn’t the same as pushing for high quality output from your direct reports. Leaders need to instill a clear sense of purpose throughout the entire organization.

The bottom line: Mulally has shared some valuable leadership lessons.

Written by 

I am a customer experience transformist, helping large organizations improve business results by changing how they deal with customers. As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. I am also a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Simply put, I am passionate about spotting emerging best practices and helping companies master them. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. My “title” is Managing Partner of the Temkin Group, a customer experience research and consulting firm that helps organizations become more customer-centric. Our goal is simple: accelerate the path to delighting customers. I am also the co-founder and Emeritus Chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, a non-profit organization dedicated to the success of CX professionals.

5 thoughts on “Ford’s CEO On Purpose, Focus, And Leadership”

  1. Bruce, Any tips on budgeting the CE project? How to calculate? What key things to keep in mind? I am not at all good with numbers, your help would be appreciated.

  2. Nice post. It is always good to see people expressing themselves in different ways.

    Since you seem to be associated with Management, I would like to suggest you a new magazine – PEOPLE MATTERS started by an ISB Alumni, which was suggested to me by a friend and which I have found very useful.

    It deals with various important aspects of management, especially those related to Leadership & People Management.

    Their last issue had an enlightening article by Robert Kaplan where he talks about how organisations can create opportunities out of current economic downturn.

    If you wish to subscribe, you can get the subscription online through their website:

    If you like the magazine, kindly refer it to your friends or colleagues in the organization you work. They may be interested in subscribing to it.


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