“Mary Barra understands the value of taking full responsibility for G.M’.s latest, high-profile challenges, especially if she wants to send the message that this is a new G.M.” — Karl Brauer, auto research firm Kelley Blue Book.
Was it a “woman executive” thing or simply “CEO smarts”?
Either way (both ways?), General Motors’ chief executive officer Mary T. Barra is getting deserved kudos for setting a new high bar for addressing a business crisis. She met the crisis head on with a degree of disarming candor not normally seen under such duress — G.M.’s recall of about three million vehicles in two recent waves because of safety failures:
“Something went very wrong in our process in this instance, and terrible things happened.”
Ms. Barra also made it clear that G.M. action by accelerating its product reviews of safety issues. And the company announced the cost of the combined safety actions, some $300 million. Classic positive crisis management policy — accepting full responsibility for a serious problem and taking verifiable action to fix it.
Some legal counsel may shudder with this approach, but it’s related to a growing appreciation of the four central outcomes of virtually every major organizational decision: financial, legal, operational and reputational. At root in the corporate world, a “reputational” outcome equates largely to the value of soft assets and brand. (Also see “Something Went ‘Very Wrong’ at G.M., Chief Says'”, Bill Vlasic and Christopher Jensen, New York Times, 3/17/14 @ http://nyti.ms/1ed0ivl)
The actual and potential roles of women executives was examined in depth at the recent “Women’s Empowerment Principles Event” at the United Nations headquarters in New York — in effect, a prelude to International Women’s Day, March 8th. A “Business In Society” TV program highlighting the views of featured speakers at the event ( in effect, a “WEPs capstone”) will air on DirecTV channel 222 on Saturday, March 22nd at 11 AM(EDT).