Henry Ford – the Leadership Qualities of One of History’s Greatest Innovators.

Topics: Management, Leadership, Ford Motor Company Pages: 16 (5110 words) Published: October 13, 2012
Henry Ford – The Leadership qualities of one of history’s greatest innovators.

Executive summary

This paper set out to find out if Henry Ford was a capable leader or just a great innovator who took advantage of a good opportunity?

We looked at the leadership traits and style of Henry Ford and found that he was a great leader, however if he had to work in today’s business world he would have to adapt to the way modern leaders deal with managing change. The examples we found of Ford’s business practices suggested he had a very direct and dictatorial management style and after years of success he failed to adapt change to his business when it needed it most. As a result, rival companies seized on changing market trends, while Ford stayed true to his vision and strategy.

Henry Ford’s vision and perseverance was the reason Ford Motor Company was successful but that success would be hard to emulate in the current poor economic conditions and ever-changing market trends we are faced with today.

There are, however, very few people like Henry Ford. We may assume that he won’t be as effective a leader today as he was some 90 years ago but you just know he would be successful. Ford was a visionary, and to give you an example of this around 100 years ago he gave Thomas Edison $1.5 million to build an electric battery that could run a car (Gunderson, 2009), which proved he had a good idea how the motor industry was going to progress. That kind of idea relevant to today’s market could see Ford progress in today’s world.


1) Introduction

2) The person under study

3) Leadership

4) Effective leadership

5) Conclusion

6) Appendices

7) References

1) Introduction

This paper will identify the leadership capabilities of Henry Ford, looking at how those capabilities are compared to theories on leadership including the author’s definition. We will also look at what it takes to be an effective leader, if Henry Ford can be considered an effective leader and if his leadership qualities would produce the same level of success in today business environment?

2) The person under study

Henry Ford (Ford) was an extremely interesting individual, hugely successful with strong self-belief and a hard working mentality. In many articles and reports, Ford gets referred to as an innovator. Yet for all his acclaim he didn’t invent anything. He was hugely successful in manufacturing automobiles and revolutionised the assembly line creating 8-hour shifts, ensuring his factories were operational 24 hours a day. He was publically acclaimed for paying his workers above average pay and after two failed businesses launched the hugely successful Ford Motor Company. He made sure that he owned the factory’s that built raw materials that were required to build automobiles and bought 7,000 dealers nationwide to ensure he had a direct network to sell cars.

A more in detail understanding of Ford’s life and career can be found in appendices A.

3) Leadership

The author’s definition of a leader is someone that sets a direction for others to follow, developing a vision and strategically planning what needs to be done to deliver that vision. Someone that is able to influence others to believe and follow a specific path. Leaders are not just CEO’s and Managing Directors, otherwise how would new leaders be born? A leader requires self-belief, creativity, drive, a persuasive manner and followers. It’s not just about your intellect, the training you have received, it’s also about seeing the way forward, knowing what needs to be done, getting the right people involved, creating an action plan and communicating it effectively (see Drucker, 2001).

Kotter (1990) helps with this definition by suggesting that a leader is a person with a vision, who aligns people to that vision through effective communication. They build a coalition with people who can aid the development of...

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