Wednesday, December 11, 2013

New GM CEO Mary Barra Brings the Results

Just named new CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra gets commendation from former GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre, specifically for her talent and experience, people skills, and backward-and-forward knowledge of GM.

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I daresay that women are judged on more than just, or in spite of, their results.  Such is the entrenched gender bias among corporate executives and in the workplace in general.  Anne Doyle is practically gushing in GM's Next CEO Mary Barra Blasts Hole in Auto Industry's Steel Ceiling, but this selection is a giant step in rectifying that bias.  

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I am also intrigued by an item in this truncated resume:  Head of Human Resources.  It may be even more rare that an HR leader ends up top of the heap, especially for a major but troubled company.  No doubt, her business, engineering and technology acumen bridged her toward business leader.  Whitacre even commended her performance in that role specifically.

But I cannot underscore this enough: Forging relationships is part-and-parcel of producing results and rising up the ranks.  Knowing how to work with people is the stuff of Emotional Intelligence that Daniel Goleman popularized, and he pointed out that EI is critical to leadership and workplace success.  Gallup took this point much further: That so-called soft skill of engaging, motivating and developing people lead directly to hard results like sustainable topline growth and shareholder value (rf. Engagement at Work: Its Effect on Performance Continues in Tough Economic Times).

It remains to be seen, of course, exactly how Barra will do.  But in the meantime a hearty congratulations to her!

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