William Clay Ford Jr. didn't earn his way to the chairmanship of Ford Motor Co. He was named chairman by heredity.
But the young Mr. Ford showed what a non-executive chairman can do in the face of human tragedy. When an explosion at the Rouge complex power plant caused devastating injuries to two dozen Ford employees, Chairman Ford rushed out of a meeting to be with his employees and their families on the site.
Some advisers told him to stay in the office. But Bill Ford knew what he had to do. Ford Motor is a big company, but a human family is still involved. Bill Ford Jr. passed his first great test of moral authority.