Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne says he will “fight like hell” to ensure his company makes money this year and criticized bosses who already have admitted their companies will make a loss this year.
“I think the first duty of a leader is to keep his company in the black. To accept - and announce - at the beginning of the year that you will lose money is the worst sign of leadership you could give to your troops,” he said.
He said that such defeatist statements make it seem like losing money is OK, which makes management complacent, hurts employee moral and slows recovery.
Marchionne's views on this subject are relevant because five years ago he rescued the then-ailing Italian industrial giant. He did so by setting and reaching seemingly impossible targets.
The outspoken Italian-Canadian executive did not say who he was referring to. However, since January CEOs of automakers such as Christian Streiff of PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Carl-Peter Forster of General Motors Europe have said their companies will suffer losses this year.
“Car markets have gone from bad to horrible so far this year, but I will fight like hell to keep Fiat Group Automobiles profitable in 2009,” Marchionne said in an interview last week at the Geneva auto show.
He admitted that remaining profitable would be particularly hard in the first quarter because Italy and Brazil -- Fiat Auto's two biggest markets -- both suffered sales declines.
“Nevertheless, I refuse to accept even the idea that our auto operations will lose money and I am reviewing all spending budgets on a daily basis” to prevent this from happening, Marchionne said.