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Henry Ford, Founder, Ford Motor Company

Image: Ford Motor Company

Leadership Insights Failure—an opportunity to begin

Dec 18, 2017

“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.” - Henry Ford, Founder, Ford Motor Company

A master of assembly line methods, Henry Ford has been a revolutionary figure when it comes to factory production. Celebrated as both a technological mastermind and a folk hero, Ford was the creative potency behind an industry of unprecedented size that in only a few decades permanently changed the economic and social charisma of the United States of America.

In his earlier days, the automobile giant fixed watches for his friends and family. While people opined that he would not last in business for more than six months, to everyone’s surprise, Ford was hugely successful in manufacturing automobiles and revolutionised the assembly line creating 8-hour shifts, ensuring his factories were operational 24-hours a day. Always fascinated with engineering, Ford invented a quadricycle in 1896—wherein two bicycles were powered together with a gasoline engine. After finalising his model, he went to see Willian Age Murphy, a Lumbar typhhon and investor. The two were immediately in business agreeing that gasoline power vehicles will be fueling the future!

A Michigan-native, the master believed in leading from the front. He had an immense capacity to see challenges as minor hurdles and failures as opportunities to start afresh. He failed twice before he founded Ford and that says a lot about the man’s trial-and-error approach. His leadership style became a cult even in those days when he had many who could give him some serious competition but not many who succeeded to do so.

Today, the fundamental challenge facing executives in knowledge businesses is the fact that goals can be exceedingly hard to define and cascade through the organisation. Way back in 1900s, Ford had a solution to it and as a successful leader, he had already provided the plan—take the car and break the process down step-by-step until you had a job one person could be easily trained to do.

An inventor with over 100 patents, the mastermind has been credited with revolutionising the modern day assemblyline method of production for his Model T cars. A believer in himself, he knew that he needed to surround himself with like-minded people. That’s the reason he hired workers who were willing to push the limits of their imagination. Instead of focusing on what can be achieved as a leader, his leadership always entailed focusing on what value and service can be given to his team.

Currently, Ford Motor Company reflects Ford’s long-term vision to help make people’s lives better by changing the way the world moves with world-class vehicles, mobility and services. As part of this strategy, Ford recently partnered with the city of Indore, signing a memorandum of understanding to work together to address their most pressing transportation issues.

The feature compiles the leadership lessons from industry experts analyzing their journey towards success

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