Another new boss for GM

So, the replacement CEO at General Motors, Fritz Henderson, has himself now been ousted. If we all purchased new vehicles as often as GM has replaced CEOs in recent months the auto industry would have a lot less to worry about.

Continuity and change: this is the trade-off which leaders have to manage. Clearly at the moment GM needs more of the latter than the former. But we risk over-emphasising the impact a single leader can have. Change has to be brought about by the leadership team and by senior management generally. It is not just down to one person. Knifing a CEO gives us a story to gossip about but does not change the fundamental challenge at the company.

After Mr Henderson’s decision to sell GM’s Opel subsidiary was reversed by his board he was probably doomed. But his fellow board members would be mistaken in believing that they will rapidly make things better by putting a new person in at the top. The challenge remains the same. Difficult decisions still have to be made. There are no quick personnel-related fixes available.

Paradoxically, bringing about successful change means understanding the value of continuity.

About the authors

Stefan Stern writes a column on Tuesdays on management. He is winner of the 2010 Towers Watson award for excellence in HR journalism, and has previously won awards from the Work Foundation and the Management Consultancies Association.

Ravi Mattu is the editor of Business Life, the FT's management features section, and a former editor of the Mastering Management series. He joined the FT in 2000 from Prospect magazine

This blog is no longer active but it remains open as an archive.

Twitter feed

RSS feed

The FT’s management blog: a guide

Commenting: We welcome your comments. You need to be registered with to comment; you can register for free here. Please also see our comments policy here.
Contacting us: You can reach us using this email format:
Timing: UK time is shown on our posts.
Follow us: Links to our Twitter and RSS feeds are at the top of the blog. You can also read us on your mobile device, by going to
FT blogs: See the full range of the FT's blogs here.

Elsewhere on Lucy Kellaway

Lucy Kellaway writes a column on Mondays on work , poking fun at management fads and jargon and celebrating the ups and downs of office life. She is also the FT's Agony Aunt.

Elsewhere on Luke Johnson

Luke Johnson writes an FT column on Wednesdays on entrepreneurship. He runs Risk Capital Partners, a private equity firm, and is chairman of the Royal Society of Arts.

Elsewhere on Dear Lucy

Lucy Kellaway, FT columnist and associate editor, offers her solution to your workplace problems in a column in the Financial Times. In the online edition of her Dear Lucy 'agony aunt' column, readers are invited to have a say too.

Featured blogs

Don Sull's blog

LBS academic blogs on leading in turbulent times

MBA blog

Students blog about their MBA experiences