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An interesting development in the Porsche vs Volkswagen drama has been the recent resignation of it’s CEO of 17 years, Wendelin Wiedeking. It could also be that Wiedeking was made to leave. It was a very sudden decision.
Wiedeking took over the management of Porsche when the automaker seemed to be on its last legs. During the 17 years at its helm, Wiedeking reversed the fortunes of the luxury marque and rebuilt the company into a highly profitable organisation.
He in particular was a great proponent of the philosophy of ‘lean thinking’ helping Porsche reduce its costs dramatically and freeing up capital to invest in new models including the highly successful 4Ã?4 model the Cayenne.
As a manager and leader he is known at Porsche to have an iron fist. He views himself as the biggest and best and expects others to buy into the myth. He admits that he hates to lose.
People who work with him and know him describe him as being desperate to be recognised and acknowledged as the best. He is described as a Ghetto-Boxer. That is somebody who has stepped out of the ghetto environment but still has the mentality of a street fighter in himself.
He is also prepared to take huge risks. When he was appointed as head of Porsche it was a position with more than a real possibility of failure. With an iron fist he reduced the work force by one third and focused on cost cutting measures in every department introducing Toyota’s JIT (just in time) model.
These kinds of management activities didn’t endear Wiedeking to his staff. He is considered as the big boss who always needs to be worshiped. He brooks no argument. He maintains that he has no fear.
He is considered to have absolutely no scruples and be prepared to turn on his own team if the situation should require it. In other words he will use any means at his disposal to make sure he succeeds.
As praise and recognition for his achievements he was ranked highly in the leadership list reaching second place in 2009 in the Power List, a list of the most influential people in the automotive world. A list that is lead by the chairman of Honda.
Reflecting on Wiedeking’s management and leadership style one sees that Porsche benefited from his dictatorial, win at all cost, style when the company’s fortunes were waning.
Is this a leadership style that is appropriate to all companies?
Is this the only way that companies need to be managed especially in times of turbulence?
Yet studies and current trends in this field of business are supporting a more inclusive leadership style. Manage by consensus rather than by dictating to staff. It will be interesting to see what companies survive the current crisis and how the survivors were lead through the recession.
One thing is certain, it might be an idea for GM or Chrysler to grab hold of Mr. Wiedeking to help them with their companies. Here is a rescue specialist without a challenge. Grab hold of him as quickly as possible.
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