May 24, 2019

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Industry Week: What Makes a Great Manufacturing Leader?

Date: 
February 07, 2019

In early 20th century manufacturing, leadership happened from the top down. It was not only dirty, dark and dangerous, it was paternalistic. Good paychecks and solid pensions meant the boss gave orders and everyone else took them. Henry Ford kept tabs on his employees on their off hours and bought out his investors when he didn’t like their advice. Forrest Mars, founder of Mars candy company, docked the pay of everyone, including executives, who arrived a minute late for work, and “was legendary for his extreme temper, and his fanatical behavior,” according to his New York Times obituary.

Sue Bingham, an organizational development consultant who’s coached manufacturing executives for 25 years, still comes across “the hero type, who comes in with arms crossed” now and again in her line of work. “We’ve worked with one company owner who signs every check, because he doesn’t trust his people to use good judgement.” She’s encountered company presidents “who are so in the weeds—down to ‘How many shipments did we make today?’”

Read more here