Henry Ford on Leadership
ENRY FORD was born 150 years ago, three weeks after the Battle of Gettysburg on July 30, 1863. At 16 left the farm to develop his skills taking an apprenticeship as a machinist in Detroit. Ford would often switch jobs when he felt he could learn more in another position. Ford learned by careful observation and trial and error.
Although, his first and second car companies failed, Ford learned more about cars, how to run a business, and more importantly how to attract talent to make his vision a reality.
The times Ford was born into and his impact on them understandably convinced him of the superiority of his own intuition. He had the problem that haunts many successful leaders: self-delusion. He believed what he wanted to believe and was certain that he always knew best.
Harvard professor Richard Tedlow observed in Giants of Enterprise
, "If Henry Ford had died in February of 1914, after the announcement of the $5 dollar day, he would be remembered almost without qualification as a man of true greatness. His flaws were noticeable in his first half century of life, but they would have been forgotten…. As his wealth grew and his fame engulfed the whole world, he lost all perspective. No life better exemplifies the derangement of power."
His defiant, tenacious, and compulsive nature accounts for his early successes. His inner strength made his dreams possible but it didn't leave much room for introspection. Without a healthy self-awareness, Ford allowed his strengths to run amuck. If he was creative, he was irrational. If he attracted great talent, he also drove it away. If he was direct, he was insensitive. Without an inner compass, Henry Ford was a man of great extremes—for better and for worse. Henry Ford leaves us much to be admired but he also reminds us of the importance of a healthy self-awareness.
On Lifelong Learning:
- Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently.
- Even a mistake may turn out to be the one thing necessary to a worthwhile achievement.
- There are no dead ends. There is always a way out. What you learn in one failure you utilize in your next success.
- Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.
- When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.
- Education is not something to prepare you for life; it is a continuous part of life.
- Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
- All that I personally own of any value is my experience, and that cannot be taken away. One should not complain of having one’s fund of experience added to.
- It has been my observation that most people get ahead during the time that others waste.
- If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself.
- My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me..
- Don’t find fault, find a remedy..
- Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.
- Paying attention to simple little things that most men neglect makes a few men rich.
- Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re right.
- You say I started out with practically nothing, but that isn’t correct. We all start with all there is. It’s how we use it that makes things possible.
- You can do anything if you have enthusiasm. Enthusiasm is the yeast that makes your hopes rise to the stars.
- The greatest thing we can produce is character. Everything else can be taken away from us.
- One of the greatest discoveries a man makes, one of his surprise, is to find he can do what he was afraid he couldn’t do.
- The unhappiest man on earth is the one who has nothing to do.
- I am looking for a lot of men who have an infinite capacity to not know what can’t be done.
On Personal Responsibility:
- Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.
- You can take my factories, burn up my buildings, but give me my people and I’ll build the business right back again.
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- What I greatly hope for these children, and for children everywhere, is a new attitude toward life – free from the gullibility which thinks we can get something for nothing; free from the greed which thinks any permanent good can come of overreaching others.
- You will find men who want to be carried on the shoulders of others, who think that the world owes them a living. They don’t seem to see that we must all lift together and pull the weight.
- The genius of the American people is self-reliance. The old principles that made us great – self-direction and self-help – are still contemporary and valid.
- Chop your own wood and it will warm you twice.
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