Considered by many to be one of the greatest CEOs of all time, Lee Iacocca was an American automobile executive who is best known for having helped bring the iconic Ford Mustang – an affordable, stylish sports car to the market in 1964.
The Early Years – Ford Motor Company
Lee Iacocca was hired by the Ford Motor Company in 1946. Identified early in his management career as a gifted engineer and marketer, Iacocca quickly rose through the ranks of Ford until he became president in 1970. In his role as president, Iacocca’s forceful nature often put him at odds with Ford’s Chairman, Henry Ford II. This conflict eventually led Henry Ford II to fire Lee Iacocca in 1978.
Shortly after Henry Ford II fired Iacocca in 1978, the nearly bankrupt Chrysler Corporation hired Iacocca to become its president and CEO – a position Iacocca held until his retirement in 1992. Chrysler hoped that by hiring Iacocca he could help the struggling automaker get back on the road to profitability. Within a few short years, Iacocca led Chrysler into record profits. This made Iacocca a national celebrity who was often featured in Chrysler tv ads. Iacocca retired out from Chrysler in 1992 but later returned to appear in more ad campaigns for the automaker in 2005.
Iacocca’s Take on Leadership
Once Iacocca had Chrysler’s financials under control, he revamped the company so that it produced fuel-efficient models. Iacocca throughout his career acknowledged that not everything that he accomplished was easy. He wrote two best-selling books where he reflected on his leadership experiences. Iacocca was quoted as saying, “It’s a good thing God doesn’t let you look a year or two into the future, or you might be sorely tempted to shoot yourself.”
Elaine Allan, BA, MBA
Technology & Business Blogger
Vancouver, BC, Canada