The Right Guy at the Right Time: Lee Iacocca
Brief Description of the leader, organization and turbulent time
In 1987 a Gallup poll was taken for the most admired people in the world. Ronald Reagan was number one, Lee Iacocca was number two, and Pope John Paul was three. Undoubtedly, one of the most famous and prolific figures of the modern business world, Iacocca demonstrated what it meant to be an exceptional leader. Born in Allentown, Pa in 1924, Iacocca would graduate from Allentown High School and go on to obtain a degree in industrial engineering from Lehigh University. Upon graduation, Iacocca followed up his engineering studies at Princeton University when he received his masters degree and also started to develop an interest in politics (a subject that would later resurface after his years in the automotive industry). After schooling, Iacocca was hired by the Ford Company to join its sales force and begin what would be a long and illustrious career in the automotive industry.
The Ford Company, despite its two billion dollar-a-year operation, decided to fire Iacocca in 1978. One year later, Iacocca was approached by Chrysler Corporation - an automobile manufacturer on the verge on bankruptcy - to help rebuild the organization from the ground up. Over the next fifteen years, Iacocca would establish himself as a self-made man, ready and willing to lead American industry out of the muck and into the future. “Iacocca is renowned because, when America was down, he was a business leader who exemplified the best of the American dream and personified all the archetypes of the automotive industry captains of old.”
What was at stake for the Company and/or organization as a result
The mid-to-late 1970’s was a particularly “down” time for the American automotive industry. The economy was faltering, gas prices were sky-rocketing, there was talk of an energy crisis, and new regulatory demands put great stress on the market. Chrysler, already...