Earlier this decade, the CEO job was too much for Ford to tackle. Time has proven that as chairman, he's got a nice touch.
It started in 2006, when Ford acknowledged he needed help turning his great-grandfather's company around. He brought in an outsider to run the company, gave him the CEO title and a ton of freedom.
Ford realized that for Alan Mulally to succeed, he'd have to support the new CEO to the hilt. That meant ending a culture known for executive power struggles and infighting. Ford had Mulally's back.
Then he took it a step further, supporting Mulally's now famous move to leverage the company's blue oval in a bid to raise money. We all know what happened next. Ford avoided government intervention and turned out product people wanted to buy. Score one for the CEO, and the chairman.
Bill Ford couldn't execute a turnaround, but he had the head to know who could and the humility to put him in charge.
That's worth something.