Icons and Idiots

I’d love to hear some comments about Bob Lutz book, Icons and Idiots: Straight Talk On Leadership.  Those in the auto industry must have especially interesting observations.   Read from the Economist review below:

Icons and Idiots: Straight Talk on Leadership. By Bob Lutz. Portfolio Penguin; 227 pages. $26.95. Buy from Amazon.com

BOOKS on business leadership often fail to catch readers’ attention because they sugarcoat incompetence, the single most intriguing characteristic of many successful careers. This is a pity, because the people at the core of these books are often excellent subjects for study by people other than their miserable underlings.


Bob Lutz’s “Icons and Idiots” provides a template for a better approach. Over a long career he worked in senior positions for BMW, Ford, Chrysler and General Motors (twice). This gives him a unique vantage point when trying to explain why the car industry, which benefited from a huge domestic market in America, needed a bail-out: it was run by petty tyrants unworthy to be in charge of a lemonade stand, let alone a vast industry.

Mr Lutz leavens his criticism with brief praise at the end of each appraisal, which can be ignored, or by finding virtue in character flaws, which should not be. Consider the flattery applied to his first boss at GM: “Bob Wachtler was not without a sense of humour, however racist, sexist, homophobic and speciesist it may have been.” Wachtler’s best feature was his ability to speak clearly: “Many times I would hear him shout,” Mr Lutz writes, ‘I read your stupid memo, and it’s clear to me that you don’t get it. I can’t waste my time explaining it all again, so just rewrite the f—ing thing, and this time, recommend approval’.”

(Continue Reading).

About mavity2012

I am a Senior Partner operating out of the Atlanta office of Fisher & Phillips LLP, one of the Nation’s oldest and largest management employment and labor firms. My practice is national and keeps me on the road or in one of our 28 offices about 50 percent of the time. I created and co-chair the Firm's Workplace Safety and Catastrophe Management Practice Group. I have almost 29 years of experience as a labor lawyer, but rely even more heavily on the experience I gained in working in my family's various businesses, and through dealing with practical client issues. Employers tell me that they seldom meet an attorney who delivers on his promise to provide practical guidance and to be a business partner. As a result, some executives probably use different terms than “practical” to describe my fellow travelers in the profession. I don't enjoy the luxury of being impractical because I spend much of my time on shop floors and construction sites dealing with safety, union and related issues which are driven by real world processes and the need to protect and get the most out of one's most important business assets ... its employees. That's one of the reasons that I view safety compliance as a way to also manage problem employees, reduce litigation and develop the type of work environment that makes unions unnecessary. Starting out dealing with union-management challenges and a stint in the NLRB have better equipped me to see the interrelationship of legal and workplace factors. I am proud also of my experience at Fisher & Phillips, where providing “practical advice” is second only to legal excellence among the Firm’s values. Our website lists me as having provided counsel for over 225 occasions of union activity, guided unionized companies, and as having managed approximately 450 OSHA fatality cases in construction and general industry, ranging from dust explosions to building collapses, in virtually every state. I have coordinated complex inspections involving multi-employer sites, corporate-wide compliance, and issues involving criminal referral. As a full labor lawyer, I oversee audits of corporate labor, HR, and safety compliance. I have responded to virtually every type of day-to-day workplace inquiry, and have handled cases before the EEOC, OFCCP, NLRB, and numerous other state and federal agencies. At F & P, all of us seek to spot issues and then rely upon attorneys in the Firm who concentrate on those areas. No tunnel vision. I teach or speak around 50 times per year to business associations, bar and professional groups, and to individual businesses. I serve on safety committees at three states’ AGC Chapters, teach at the AGC ASMTC
This entry was posted in auto industry, books and articles, cultural changes, management and leadership and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s