Daily Podcast: Although the Last, Not Least

Robert Farago
by Robert Farago

Ted Turner used to have a sign on his desk: "Lead, Follow or Try to Snort as much Cocaine As I do." No wait. "Lead, Follow or Get Out of the Way." Americans tend to view the statement as Ted did: vindication for centralized power. In other words, I'm the leader. Follow me or **** off. While the three-role rule applies to all human interactions, it doesn't say you should pick one and stick with it forever. There are times when it's best to lead, times when you're better off implementing a leader's vision, and times when the further you remove yourself from the leader and his followers, the better (just ask Congressman Leo Ryan's family). Clearly, GM Car Czar Bob Lutz swings wildly between leader and disparu. While the media loves Bob the leader and completely misses disinterested Bob (the man who can't be bothered to listen when "his people" pepper him with "details"), it is Lutz' abject inability to follow that defines both the man and his– I mean "the" company. But it's not really his fault. GM CEO Rick Wagoner is not a leader, so who could he follow? The fact that GM's former CFO (Wagoner) lets Lutz run riot/rampant tells you that Wagoner is either seriously deluded about Lutz' abilities, or gets out of his way because, well, what do I know? When GM's epitaph is finally written, Wagoner will be seen as a slave to the diseased corporate culture that created him. And Lutz will be seen as figure of pathos; GM's very own King Lear.

Robert Farago
Robert Farago

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  • David C. Holzman David C. Holzman on Nov 20, 2007

    Love the "Lutz as King Lear." Re the automotive dream team, I may be unusual but I like the Bangle BMW.

  • Samir Syed Samir Syed on Nov 20, 2007

    King Lear is probably my favorite piece of Shakespeare. When you connected Lutz to King Lear, this line came to mind: 'Tis the infirmity of his age: yet he hath ever but slenderly known himself. King Lear, 1. 1

  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Nov 20, 2007

    Comparing a Bob Lutz to a Billy Ford is like comparing a Pee Wee Reese to a Pee Wee Herman.

  • Edgett Edgett on Nov 21, 2007

    "Maximum" Bob's resume (courtesy Wikipedia): - General Motors -- 1963 to 1971, in GM Europe - BMW --1971 to 1974 - Ford beginning 1974 - Chairman of Ford of Europe (early 1980s) - Executive Vice President of Ford International Operations (beginning about 1982) - Vice President in charge of Ford Truck Operations (beginning about 1985) - Member Ford Board of Directors (1982-1986) - Executive at Chrysler Corporation, (1986-1998) initially primarily responsible for product development; subsequently president and chief operating officer, and then vice chairman. - CEO of Exide from 1998 to 2002 - General Motors, 2002 to present With this kind of experience, you'd think he'd have the foresight to come up with a convertible top (Solstice/Sky) that wasn't a bad copy of a British Leyland nightmare. Then again, perhaps he just couldn't find the right company... Although the Viper is on his "credit" side, he is also responsible for the Prowler, an execrable little car if ever there was one. And don't forget the LH Chrysler, a car that had the Bulgarian car industry shaking in their boots. I do hope he had a hand in the latest CTS, as it looks like a decent effort; judging from his credentials, however, one might credit the details to other more talented folks at GM.