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’.”