Lee Iacocca: Basic Management Tips

  • Play dumb when you have to: In December of 1960, McNamara pressured Henry Ford to promote Iacocca to head of the Ford Division, Lee was told to play it cool when being taken to Henry Ford’s office and when offered the position. The reason was that Ford II wanted to make the offer as though it was his own decision and surprise Iacocca.
  • Use common sense and experience in management: Iacocca relays this message about common sense that he picked up from Charlie Beacham (top sales guru) from Iacocca’s Chester, Pennsylvania days; “if you can’t tell the difference between a scope of horse crap and vanilla ice cream then there is no hope for you.” Common sense is something you have to be born with. Logical reasoning is a kind of common sense.
  • Be decisive as a manager: To act is the one key. The most important decision in a company is made by individuals and not by committees. Decisions by committee take dialogue, which is not what you need when you are trying to shoot a moving object like a duck, according to Iacocca. You need to look at the facts as far as you are able to outline them and make decisions accordingly. Too many MBAs will wait until they have 100% of the facts. The problem is that too much education leads managers to over analyze their courses of action. For Iacocca, timing is everything, getting the right decision at the right time is the difference between success and failure.
  • A leader takes a leap of faith: 1) even the right decision is wrong if it’s too late; 2) there is no such thing as certainty so stop trying to create it; 3) don’t be the little boy with the big dog that leads the boy wherever he wants.
  • Always be careful of those who may be jealous of your success: Iacocca had no real credentials when he was made head of the Ford Division. He was an ideas guy not a product guy, you need to have a major success in order to prove your worth, hence Iacocca spearheaded the development of the Mustang…
This is a synopsis & analysis based on Iacocca: An Autobiography and other miscellaneous research sources. Enjoy.