September 24, 2018

When Sergio Marchionne passed away in July 2018, he left a legacy of leadership including guiding the turn-around of Fiat Group to become one of the fastest growing companies in the auto industry, helping Chrysler rebound following bankruptcy, and leading the merger between the two companies, now the seventh largest auto group in the world.

He was widely known for his blunt commentary, including frank criticism of his own company’s products, and occasionally delivering remarks deemed offensive or out-of-line.  But perhaps his greatest candor comes from his perspectives on leadership, developing people, and the importance of trust.

“Great groups are led by men and women with the extraordinary capacity to bring out the best in others, help them build self-confidence and grow as professionals and even more importantly as human beings…”

Marchionne is reminding us to recognize our employees as people who are much more than their organizational skill set. When we value others as their whole selves, we are honoring their ability to have significant and positive influence in the world.

“Trust is essential in leading change, in leading people to do things with a sense of mission, in bringing conviction and belief and devotion to the effort but it’s not easy to build trust. Trust is built upon moral conduct…”

Trust, Marchionne suggests, must be earned by demonstrating your own core values. Honesty and respect are the cornerstones of candor, and the path by which leaders are able to grow organizations.

“The true value of a CEO should be measured in terms of his or her human impact on the organization, on his or her ability to develop leaders who have the courage to challenge the status quo, to pioneer uncharted paths, to break away from convention and go beyond the tried and the tested…”

Growth in an organization is dependent upon the ability of its teams to anticipate, innovate and adjust with a balance of creativity and clarity. Leaders must coach their teams so they may grow with and beyond the organization.

Marchionne is a remarkable example of how the tremendous financial, product and market savvy for which he was lauded matched with a deep-rooted respect for the humans in his organizations.