Perhaps as a counterblast to rumours in the Nikkei that Nissan is fed up with him favouring the Renault side of the partnership, Carlos Ghosn has started a series in the main Japanese business weekly magazine, Nikkei Business, on management. This week’s article is on leadership in a crisis, setting out very clearly how much Nissan owes him for steering them through their own crises (not just the business nearly bankrupting at the end of the 1990s, but the earthquake and the Thai floods).
He does not openly seek the glory, saying that the key for a leader is to delegate to the people who are the frontline of the crisis and to have the right organisational structure in place to be able to do this. The leader should not hide in the headquarters however, but go to the frontline themselves, and support them in whatever way they can.
However, his French analytical side also comes out, saying that the first step is to ensure an objective understanding of the situation. He also emphasises “pragmatism” – not getting caught up in past emotional ties, but making rational decisions.
And of course he talks about the need for vision and commitment – and in particular mentions how he became famous for saying that if the targets of the Nissan Revival Plan were not reached within a set time, he and the executive team would step down. In fact Nissan reached those targets a year early.
It is not necessary to keep going to extremes, he cautions – apparently he keeps being asked if he’ll resign if they don’t meet the targets of Nissan 180, the new plan. He says the point of a revival is to address fundamental problems, and is totally different from a “turn around”, where another turn around is usually necessary three years later. Nissan has produced good results these past 13 years since he became CEO, and survived further external crises – it is a true revival, he concludes.
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