Toyota Leadership and Ford Leadership


Jim Press: ‘I was in love with cars every second'

Here is a bio of Toyota's North American Sales President, Jim Press. It's interesting to see the contrast between Toyota leadership and Ford leadership. Press has been with Toyota since 1970 and rose through the ranks. Ford has had FOUR North American Presidents in four years, including the new guy, Mark Fields, who seems like your classic Harvard MBA big-thinkin' tough-talkin' professional manager.

More about Press and his style…

…he says he tries to show concern for everyone. His management philosophy is what he calls the “servant leader,” a hands-off approach in which the goal is to help subordinates as they try to help you.”I respect the people I work with to the point my job is to help them understand the vision and direction we all want to move,” Press says, adding that he then tries to “get out of the way.”

Swimming is his main pastime and exercise:

In the pool, “I will think about doing strokes. Every time I take a stroke, I think about where my hand is,” Press says.

Each stroke better than the last.

Now THAT sounds like classic kaizen thinking. “Each stroke better than the last.” And we wonder why Toyota doesn't have to announce a “new direction” every five to ten years the way GM and Ford have to.


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Mark Graban is an internationally-recognized consultant, author, and professional speaker who has worked in healthcare, manufacturing, and startups. His latest book is Measures of Success: React Less, Lead Better, Improve More. He is author of the Shingo Award-winning books Lean Hospitals and Healthcare Kaizen, as well as The Executive Guide to Healthcare Kaizen. He also published the anthology Practicing Lean that benefits the Louise H. Batz Patient Safety Foundation, where Mark is a board member. Mark is also a Senior Advisor to the technology company KaiNexus.

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