Today I spent a lot of time at home, reading, watching tv, meditating about the actual situation and how should I drive my team in this difficult times and, above all, in the future.
Two years ago Sergio Marchionne passed away. For me he was an example and a reference for different reasons. He changed FIAT recovering a terrible financial situation, gaining again the market and re-position the company in the global market.
He did it thanks to his trust on his managers. Nothing else. Simply selecting his leaders and putting them in the rights positions.
I’ve translated his speach dated 2008, during a ceremony he has been honored with a degree Honoris Causa.
So actual in 2020!
Simply talking about leadership and stating …”Leaders, the real ones, are nothing more than instruments of change”
In these years a lot of people asked me how we managed to save FIAT and what was the “magic recipe”
What I can say is: there isn’t a valid industrial recipe for every company.
But it exists a common approach that being transversal to all of them permits to solve also the most difficult situations.
I mean to recognize the central role that people has and the leader that manage them.
The quality of people is essential and nothing can substitute it, a company is the result of people who work inside, and the relationship between them.
And for this reason is so important the quality of the managers, their cohesion, the fact of sharing the same direction the same methods, the same targets.
And the union of all leaders around a system of common values.
And this is the only secret that I know.
Because the organizations are nothing else that a set of the collective will and the
aspirations of the people involved.
Today’s reality obliges that the concept of leadership being re-calibrated. Every year business schools prepare thousands of men and women in the science of management to manage organizations and what is missing, in a certain way, in this preparation, is that the leadership is not just a matter of processes or measures.
The leadership is a noble vocation, something that enriches people’s lives.
And what many neglect, is that the leadership is a privilege.
Organizations created during last 200 years were the product of two broad premises:
The first is that without rules, policies and extended procedures, people react irresponsibly.
And the second that the best methods to organize a company is to create simple works connected by complex processes.
The first destroy trust and the second steals from the people involved any perception of personal value.
Managing organization using these principles is not leadership.
The leadership of people and change have become the basis for the recovery of the new FIAT.
And I believe that leadership has never been more important and difficult than in this era.
The world we are leaving is everyday new. The probability that the future will be a replica of the past is zero.
Speaking about leadership is complex and it can’t be reduced to a managerial theory.
There are many variables involved and the way it acts is deep.
Leadership arises from our mind, from our hearts, from the ability to see a future.
For this reason be a leader today is so important and difficult.
The true validity of a CEO today can only be weighed in terms of the human impact he has on the structure of the organization.
His most important task is to choose the right leaders and put them in the right places.
By righteous leaders I mean people who have the courage to challenge the obvious, to follow unpopulated roads, to break patterns and old habits that are visible to competitors. To go beyond what has already been seen.
Men and women who understand the concept of service, community and respect for others.
People who act quickly but who have the ability to listen.
They are reliable in the sense that they always keep their promises, and they don’t make promises they can’t keep.
And above all they have the vision of their acting in a social context.
At FIAT this recovery was accomplished by a group of tenacious motivated leaders who trust themselves and their collaborators.
People who do not hesitate in the face of responsibilities and have an extraordinary ability in designing creative collaborations within their teams.
This group of leaders is our best guarantee for the future. They understand and share the idea developed years ago by the great Prussian general von Clausewitz, according to which the strategy cannot be reduced to a set of formulas.
In the best of cases it is a set of wide-ranging objectives that can only be achieved by seizing the opportunities in their becoming .. and as happens in war, detailed planning fails due to unexpected frictions, execution errors, but above all because of the unpredictable exercise of individual will by competitors.
There is a cultural turning point that the women and men of our company have impressed on their way of thinking and acting. And these people we must ensure freedom of maneuver and wide autonomy.
We must guarantee a meritocratic system, because it is the only way to guarantee the best resources for the group and to give anyone the opportunity to emerge and demonstrate what it is worth.
We must give them the opportunity to grow because it is the only way to ensure the growth of the company.
I think this is the task of an CEO, and in all this we have to demystify his figure.
The era of the great man, of individualism, of the free hitter who alone solves the problem of an organization is now dead and buried.
Leaders, the real ones, are nothing more than instruments of change.