“Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It’s easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else’s kids off to war when you have never seen a battlefield yourself. It’s another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.”—these are the wise words of Lee Iacocca—the dynamic ex-CEO of Chrysler who converted this car company from rags to riches. He is the man behind the Iacocca Foundation that’s making huge success in the field of Diabetes-cure. He is also the Chairman and inspiration to the compatriots of Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Centennial Commission. “I think we need to be reminded every once in a while of who we are, and what kind of nation we’ve promised to be.” Says Iacocca. “Not a nation that builds walls, but a nation that lifts a lamp to light the way.” At 83, Iacocca talks his heart-out in his latest book, “Where have all the leaders gone” and hopes to make a difference.
Pity, this book came rather late. Most of his opinions or criticism on Trade, Commerce and Economics of USA and its allies is already been covered by journalists and research scholars across the globe. His views on foreign policy, particularly those about Middle-East and Japan are also prototypical. However, Iacocca lives up to the expectation of being candid and out-spoken. With anti-Bush slogans and a bitter criticism of the Capitol Hill, he intends to provide direction to the upcoming US Presidential election in this book.
The “Nine Cs of Leadership” as compiled by the author provides an acid-test for the future leaders. It is a practical method to judge the desired qualities of an aspiring leader-be it in the political scenario, social platform or an industrial backdrop. Along with the dynamics of Nine Cs, Iacocca portrays genuine case-studies, mapping his life-long achievements and mistakes to current scenarios. Although, the book talks mostly about American situations, his guiding principles have a universal appeal.
The author points out, “When advertising slogans are better known than the Ten Commandments or the Bill of Rights, when shopping malls are our places of worship, when bad behavior is justified as long as it leads to profit, when debt is justified as long as it leads to a plasma TV, and when the measure of a person is the kind of car he drives, maybe it’s time to ask whether we’ve corrupted the very notion of capitalism.”
It says a lot about the intensity and profanity of morals in the midst of economic-globalization. Besides, the fiscal angle as highlighted by the author, exemplifies the alarming ‘debt’ burdens of the government and commoners alike in the USA. Along with criticizing the spending-spree of average Americans, Iacocca presents a gloomy picture where every household is entitled to a debt burden of $115,000, courtesy the latest National Debt records of the US government. That is the magnitude of US ‘borrowing’ in the world market. He demanded a “National Borrowing Freeze”.
His perspective on pros and cons of merger and acquisitions in today’s business world throws light on some of the conniving issues related to corporate ‘take-over’s. He advises current corporate executives to analyze the various dimensions of a merger-acquisition prospect. The potential of an amalgamated entity may increase or decrease as per circumstances. He emphasizes on the “synergy” factor. Moreover, he demonstrates how team-dynamics, existing and prospective customer base adds up to the complexity of the situation. “Merge because of your hopes, not your fears” says Iacocca.
Other than the business aspect, this book passes judgment on the existing legal idiosyncrasies in America. The terror of lawsuits involving punitive damages, vaccinations, insurances et al have demotivated the American professionals from all works of life. It has made them “too safety conscious” and as per the author innovativeness is directly proportional to risk-taking ability.
Like in his earlier work “Iacocca: An Autobiography” and “Talking Straight”, Iacocca’s sense of humor adds on to his rational thought-process. His expressions on national level disasters or his analysis on today’s “over-eating, pill-popping, TV-watching, iPod-wired, shopaholic, attention-deficit-disordered” current generation are marked with acute satirical gestures. His simplistic, honest, straight forward writing, though marred by unparliamentary language stands out in the myriad of hypocritical narratives. He is a self-proclaimed rebel amongst the retired, golf-playing club goers and a dedicated campaigner to bring back ‘leadership’.
No wonder, at 83, Lee Iacocca, the capitalist entrepreneur turned political and social messiah, who once smoked cigars with Fidel Castro, still doesn’t cease to intrigue and rock the world.
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