Monday PM January 12th, 2009

Boeing’s chief executive pulled off a turnaround for the aerospace giant, setting in motion several years of growth. But Boeing faces new problems — huge layoffs, contract disputes and a recently resolved strike. Ed Mayberry reports.


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image of Can't Order Change: Lessons from Jim McNerney's Turnaround book cover

Author Peter Cohan was never granted an interview with Boeing CEO Jim McNerney.  He talked with people who’ve worked closely with the CEO throughout his career.  But his book You Can’t Order Change: Lessons from Jim McNerney’s Turnaround at Boeing still shows what leaders at every level can learn from his success.

“There are some CEOs who would love to see a book written about them, who enjoy the glory of having a book written about them.  But McNerney is not one of these people.  He’s got a very low ego.  He doesn’t need press recognition to achieve satisfaction.  What he’s trying to do is do a good job as CEO.”

Ed: “Is he a good motivator?  What makes him a good CEO?”

“Yes, he’s good in four broad areas: motivating people, crafting the strategy so the firm can grow, tightening operations and dealing with communities, including investors and people wo are concerned about the environment.”

Cohan says McNerney’s consensus-driven leadership style would be of benefit to companies of all sizes.

“In an organization, you have different departments–you know, sales, marketing, manufacturing, purchasing.  You have to get all those departments heading in the same direction.  That’s something that he does really well that I think is also relevant to a small or a large business.  And there are a number of other things that I talk about in the book that I think are relevant to both large and small businesses.”

Ed: “If you saw him at a party, after te book’s been out for a while and you still haven’t heard from him, what would yuo say to him?”

“Well, I’d say that I congratulated him on doing such a great job of running the company, and I would love to have a chance to sit down and get his feedback on the book.”  

Ed Mayberry, KUHF Houston Public Radio News.

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