Carlos Ghosn finally got the chance to fire off a round in the war of words with Japanese prosecutors and his former colleagues at Nissan.
It's safe to say he didn't elevate the quality of the discourse, tearing into his successors as selfish conspirators, backstabbers and visionless destroyers of value doing a mediocre job of running his old company. "I'm talking about people who really played a very dirty game," he said in a video recorded April 3 and exhibited last week.
OK, so he's a bit rankled after three months sitting in a jail cell, watching helplessly as the global alliance he built over 20 years teeters. And this was before he got arrested again, sent back to the clink and booted once and for all from the Nissan board.
Ghosn's latest arrest, on top of three pending indictments for alleged financial misdeeds, certainly helps underscore Nissan CEO Hiroto Saikawa's legitimate case for stricter corporate governance to prevent abuses of power.
But while Ghosn is deeply compromised as a messenger, there is some merit to his message about what big automakers need in a time of intense competition and rapid change.
It isn't governance by committee and consensus, the muddled solution Ghosn's successors at Renault, Nissan and Mitsubushi have devised to steady their unwieldy alliance. That's a recipe for slow decline, the very formula that sapped giant General Motors of its vitality on the way to bankruptcy and put Ford on the brink a couple of years earlier.
"Frankly, sitting down there on the table, being consensual about decisions, this is not a vision in an industry which is as competitive as the car industry," Ghosn said in his videotaped statement. "You need to make sure that from time to time, leadership is exercised. And leadership means we do what's good for the company, not what you are capable to agree on."
The courts will sort out the alleged financial shenanigans. But on the demands of leadership in this time of change, we tend to see things more Ghosn's way. Which also happens to be Alan Mulally's way, and Sergio Marchionne's way, and Mary Barra's way, and Carlos Tavares' way.
Strong, decisive leadership matters. It keeps a big organization tight, focused and moving boldly forward against the headwinds.
A well-governed company does its duty to swiftly check abuses of power. But it lets its leader lead.