Last week, Automotive News ran its annual list of industry all-stars. It was dominated by General Motors executives.
What is remarkable, however, is that all the GM all-stars have been with the company a long time - with the exception of Bob Lutz, GM's most recent and most colorful big-name arrival.
So what happened? Was it only a matter of time until those executives, minus Lutz, would have come together and transformed GM?
No. It wasn't going to work that way. There was a growing realization that GM was strong in many areas. But somehow the car-building side got lost in the equation.
In addition to adding Lutz, a well-known and forceful fellow, the company made many other commitments that enabled Lutz to do what he does so well. He was empowered to get the most out of anyone inside GM who might be considered a car guy.
Meanwhile, GM made the right decisions to support its new regime. CEO Rick Wagoner gave Lutz the support he needed. Lutz and the rest of the GM organization have done some outstanding things in less than a year.
If anyone thought that you can't change the course of a supertanker, take a look at how Wagoner has changed the culture of General Motors.
And he did it without any fanfare. He did it by letting the other guys get the limelight. That's the sign of a real leader, one who's very comfortable with his role and his authority.
Interestingly, another great executive on that same list of all-stars has accomplished as much if not more. That's Carlos Ghosn of Nissan.
The speed and effectiveness with which he changed the culture of an entire company have been Herculean. A different country and a different culture didn't slow him down at all. That feat should be appreciated all over the automotive world.
Wagoner and Ghosn are two executives who can build consensus. They know that their effectiveness depends on getting everyone on the same wavelength and working together. That's easier said than done.
Of the Automotive News All-Stars, none are more deserving than Rick Wagoner and Carlos Ghosn.