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Icons and Idiots: Straight Talk on Leadership
Bob Lutz


9781591846048
Retail Price: $26.95
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Format: Hardcover, 240pp.
ISBN: 9781591846048
Publisher: Portfolio Hardcover
Pub. Date: June 4, 2013

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Description and Reviews
From The Publisher:

“Most successful leaders are mentally and emotionally askew. There’s a good side, which gets the job done. There’s often also a downside that makes them hard to understand or difficult to work for. It’s precisely that they are impatient, stubborn, opinionated, unsatisfied, and domineering that makes them successful.”

When Bob Lutz retired from General Motors in 2010, after an unparalleled forty-seven-year career in the auto industry, he was one of the most respected leaders in American business. He had survived all kinds of managers over those decades: tough and timid, analytical and irrational, charismatic and antisocial, and some who seemed to shift frequently among all those traits. His experiences made him an expert on leadership, every bit as much as he was an expert on cars and trucks.

Now Lutz is revealing the leaders—good, bad, and ugly—who made the strongest impression on him throughout his career. Icons and Idiots is a collection of shocking and often hilarious true stories and the lessons Lutz drew from them. From enduring the sadism of a Marine Corps drill instructor, to working with a washed-up alcoholic, to taking over the reins from a convicted felon, he reflects on the complexities of all-too-human leaders. No textbook or business school course can fully capture their idiosyncrasies, foibles and weaknesses – which can make or break companies in the real world.

Lutz shows that we can learn just as much from the most stubborn, stupid, and corrupt leaders as we can from the inspiring geniuses. He offers fascinating profiles of icons and idiots such as...
  • Eberhard von Kuenheim. The famed CEO of BMW was an aristocrat-cum-street fighter who ruled with secrecy, fear, and deft maneuvering.
  • Harold A. “Red” Poling: A Ford CEO and the ultimate bean counter. If it couldn’t be quantified, he didn’t want to know about it.
  • Lee Iacocca: The legendary Chrysler CEO appeared to be brillant and bold, but was often vulnerable and insecure behind the scenes.
  • G. Richard “Rick” Wagoner: The perfect peacetime CEO whose superior intelligence couldn’t save GM from steep decline and a government bailout.
As Lutz writes:
We’ll examine bosses who were profane, insensitive, totally politically incorrect, and who “appropriated” insignificant items from hotels or the company. We’ll visit the mind of a leader who did little but sit in his office. We’ll look at another boss who could analyze a highly complex profit-and-loss statement or a balance sheet at a glance, yet who, at times, failed to grasp the simplest financial mechanisms—how things actually worked in practice to create the numbers in the real world.

The result is a powerful and entertaining guide for any aspiring leader.



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Reviews

Auto industry veteran Lutz (Car Guys and Bean Counters) held senior leadership positions at four of the world’s top automakers, including a stint as vice-chairman of General Motors. Here, he offers a fresh twist on leadership lessons, drawing on the positive and negative examples of real-life leaders he encountered over 47 years in the car business. In concise, snappy, often hilarious chapters, Lutz profiles household names like Lee Iacocca and well-known CEOs like Bob Eaton, who ran Chrysler, but most chapters are devoted to rank and lesser known executives he served under throughout his career, including Eberhard Von Kuenheim, who went on to “transform BMW from a tiny, regional auto company into a global luxury-car powerhouse.” Lutz’s experiences in the auto industry will delight car lovers, but even the uninitiated will likely be amused by his lively prose. His vivid attention to detail brings each leader to life, illustrating his or her individual complexities with stories of foibles, political incorrectness, and praiseworthy moments that will draw sighs of recognition from readers who have worked in hierarchical corporations large or small. Agent: Wes Neff, LeighCo Inc. (June)
—Publishers Weekly


 
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About the Author

Bob Lutz held senior leadership positions at General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and BMW over nearly a half century in the auto industry, culminating with his vice chairmanship of GM from 2001 to 2010. He is the bestselling author of Guts: 8 Laws of Business and Car Guys vs. Bean Counters: The Battle for the Soul of American Business. He lives outside Detroit.



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