03 December 2009

Pick Me!

Did you hear, Fritz Henderson is out at GM? The board fired him because he was too much a company man, having worked for them 25 years. The board chair, Ed Whitacre, said "that G.M. was 'on the right path,' but needed to more quickly under new leadership.

the board decided that the 25-year veteran of G.M. was too tied to the company’s past mistakes to bring a fresh approach that could help reverse its decades-long slide.

According to a person with direct knowledge of the board’s deliberations, there was no final straw that led to Mr. Henderson’s forced resignation. Rather, G.M.’s directors began discussing weeks ago that the company needed to seek an outsider to lead the company.

“Fritz was just not enough of a change agent,” that person said.

Well have I got an idea for them.


I'm an outsider, way outside, as in walk to work and drive a 2003 Toyota my mother left me when she died. (Our other car, a 1991 Toyota, was damaged over the summer and we sold it, but it too came to us when my mother-in-law died.) I am the un-CEO and yet have been leading organizations for all of my 30 years of service. And believe me I know how organizations can get into ruts. One I led was founded in 1655. GM has nothing on that.

Honestly, people underestmate us clergy as leaders. They think that because there are no big numbers or fancy campuses that our work is light weight. Just ask any business leader who has ever served on a church board and they will tell you the minister has a way tougher job.

And the best part, I do not need to succeed. One thing I have learned anything over the years Jesus taught me, "Whoever would save his life (job) will lose it." You gotta do what's right and if that means you get fired, OK. Obviously, playing it safe did not save Fritz his job.

So what would I do?

Tell them to make the car that will save the industry. The future belongs to home grown renewable fuels, to people who want to choose whether to drive or walk or ride the bike or the bus. GM ought to provide transportation solutions, not surrogates for power or pleasure or sex. They should make the Swiss Army knife of cars, the dependable tool people need to live solid and satisfying lives.

Then I would ask them why this can't happen, what is keeping us, America, GM, from being the leader not just in profits and market share but in ideas and hopes and dreams. GM is trying to do what Henderson did, keep its job. And that's why they will fail. But who will tell them?

Yep, that would be me. And besides, I do not need anything close to the salary they paid Fritz. Mr Whitacre said this would be a problem in searching for a new CEO:

“The biggest impediment to hiring someone from the outside as C.E.O. will be the compensation issue,” said Jerome York, a former G.M. director who had pressed for new leadership at the company. “Most executives of that caliber expect a boatload of money to join a new company.”

Mr. Henderson’s cash salary, for example, was cut 25 percent, to $950,000, once the government became majority owner after it helped G.M. emerge from bankruptcy.

Since saving money is important right now, I would settle for half that, easy. They would only have to change the last name on the door and the business cards, as Fritz is a common nickname for Fred. (Kinda like it actually. Zippy sounding, and not a whiff of Flintstone in it. My dad sometimes called me that actually.) And if they want, I can commute from the west side of the state. No need to relocate. How sweet is that?

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