GM Leadership Mistake: Brian Deese

Barack Obama has slated a 31 year old with no practical business experience to run and bring General Motors back to health. Deese has been on the Obama economic team as part of his automobile task force. He has been in position for about 6 months and despite his calling for and getting 30 billion dollars in bailout money, the auto industry is going into bankruptcy. Thus, I cannot say that Deese has done a good job since we have already wasted 30 billion dollars. I do not know what Obama is thinking to put some unqualified kid in charge to run the auto industry. This is political suicide.  Obama claims he does not want the government to be in the auto industry, but his political motives are clear and that is why I think both Obama and Deese will be calling the shots. For example, Obama has used his ownership stake to pass CAFÉ standards. He has given the UAW (which is largely supported by Democrats) a larger ownership stake in the company than the investors that own most of the company’s debt. Obama will also control which GM plants survive and which ones die and I am sure his decision will be based on politics (those in Democrat districts survive while those plants in Republican districts will be closed). I talk about three types of failing leadership in my book (Is America Dying?) that I witnessed during my days in the corporate world. Deese is a perfect example of one of these three types of incompetent leaders.  Here is an excerpt from my book:


“Corporate leaders promote individuals not on their “leadership skills”, but on their “followship skills”. They want “yes men” who follow their agenda and kiss their ass. They do not want their subordinates to ask questions. They want subordinates whose sole purpose is to implement and enforce their supervisor’s strategy, and not to think for themselves or to offer insight. Subordinates are paid not to think. The corporate think tank is getting smaller as corporations are run by a small number of super egos. This is a dangerous situation, especially for a company that is struggling during a recession. This is the dangerous strategy being followed by my former employer, and I would not be surprised if it is being followed by the struggling airline and auto industries. Our corporate leaders are self absorbed and disconnected from its employees. They are convinced that they are the chosen ones to do the job and that it is beneath them to listen or take advice from their mortal employees.


Generally, when my former employer selected managers based on merit (if they opted not to select a follower), they felt compelled to do it in one of two ways. First, they either promoted the most intelligent person or second, they brought in a perceived successful manager from a different area. Under the first scenario, selecting the individual with the most intellect has flaws if the individual does not have commonsense or a strong grasp of the business model. Most intellectuals generally have an introverted personality. Introverts tend to lack the necessary people skills to communicate effectively. If the manager cannot communicate, then the business group is essentially operating without managerial oversight. The second scenario, those managers brought in from different areas would make sense if they understood the business model and the product line. As explained earlier, large corporations are made up of hundreds of smaller organizations, but each one has a unique business model. What works for one group may not work for another group. Managers brought in from other areas usually make wrong assumptions about what worked for them in the past will work again. This can be avoided if new managers were patient and tried to understand the current business model before acting on their changes. Unfortunately, a lot of these leaders have super egos and feel they can do absolutely nothing wrong. Hence, they waste little time enacting their business plan on the new group. Thus, their actions can wreck havoc on a business unit.”


I see Deese as being either a follower that will be doing what Obama and his economic cronies tell him or he will have the gall to make tough decisions blindly. After all, he does not have the expertise to make any competent decisions. Thus, Deese will be either a followship leader or the perceived successful manager from a different area that does not understand the business. Either way, he is destined to fail.


My Blog: http://patrickbohan.blogtownhall.com/ (The Theory of Mediocrity)

My Book: Is America Dying? (Amazon.com, Barnes and Noble)