Bob Lutz says nice things about Rick Wagoner in his new book, Icons and Idiots, but faults his former boss at General Motors for coddling "useless" executives.
Lutz didn't name names, but in an interview described them as "totally buttoned up, totally predictable, everything is always there on time, the paperwork is already in order, and their desks are always neat and uncluttered.
"They unfailingly say the right things in meetings, so they rise to the top or to senior positions and they never do anything because they are not leaders."
Lutz says they're the opposite of the entrepreneurs he has come to know since leaving GM in 2010.
"Since my retirement I've really enjoyed working with entrepreneurs and startup companies and seeing how fast these people race. They will not bow to pressure. They are not afraid of failure.
"What you've got in most large corporations is a huge drive for conformity -- don't advocate anything because if it goes wrong they will tag you with it and it will destroy your career."
Lutz says business schools preach safety first.
"They teach all of these various ways to measure things, to analyze things, how to do discounted cash flow and present values and all of this stuff. But what nobody teaches them is the killer instinct. The desire to lead and to drive change."
He says true entrepreneurs aren't suited for big companies: "I don't think Elon Musk would ever make CEO in a large corporation."
Lutz got sideways with a few bosses in his time and never made CEO. Should he have been an entrepreneur instead of a corporate high-flyer?
"If I compare myself to the entrepreneurs I work with, I am always the voice of caution, which is a completely new role for me," he said. "I don't think I was cut out to be an entrepreneur.
"I was at the ragged edge of being too entrepreneurial in a large corporation, but probably not entrepreneurial enough to succeed as an entrepreneur. I also have that fear of losing everything I've achieved so far."