14 June 2021

Episode 001: Leadership in Times of Crisis with Alan Mulally, CEO
The Principles of the Working Together Process


Welcome to the inaugural episode of The Thinking Leader podcast, brought to you by Red Team Thinking. Bad leaders react, good leaders, plan, and great leaders think. In each episode, your host, Bryce Hoffman, brings you new ideas and insights from some of the greatest business and thought leaders to help you think more deeply and lead more effectively so that you can be a great leader too. In this episode, Bryce interviews legendary CEO, Alan Mullaly. They talk about leading through crises and how Alan saved not one, but two, iconic American companies: Boeing and Ford.

Alan Mullaly began his career as an Aerospace engineer at Boeing, rising to become president and CEO of that company’s commercial airplanes group in 2001. He led Boeing through its near-death experience after 9/11 and returned the company to record profitability in less than five years. A lot of people took notice of that, and one of them was Bill Ford. His company, Ford Motor Co., was on the brink of bankruptcy in 2006. Bill Ford stepped aside and turned the automaker over to Mulally. Alan went on to lead a top-to-bottom global restructuring that transformed Ford into one of the most profitable automakers in the world — and he did it in the midst of The Great Recession, while the rest of the American automobile industry collapsed around him, and he did it without taking a government bailout.

It is one of the most amazing comebacks in business history. It was also the subject of Bryce’s first book: American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company.

“It is so important that the leader and the leadership team trusts the Working Together process, so when there is a problem we thank the organization for sharing that, we make sure that everybody is included, the vision and the strategy plan, and lastly making sure that all participants of the process are having fun and enjoying the journey.” - Alan Mulally, CEO

Top 10 Takeaways:


[3:11] Alan offers advice for leading through the present pandemic.

[6:59] As a leader, you need to face reality, no matter how challenging it may be.

[7:31] Alan outlines his “Working Together” principles and talks about where they come from and how they work.

[12:22] When confronted with a crisis, you need to deal with the immediate challenges, but not lose sight of your long-term strategy.

[23:27] Alan talks about his heroic decision to turn down a government bailout in the midst of the Global Financial Crisis when he was CEO of Ford.

[27:19] Finding the courage to stay the course.

[30:35] Alan talks about his team-based approach to leadership.

[36:23] Alan offers advice on how to develop the emotional resiliency leaders need to guide their organizations through difficult times.

[37:45] As a leader, you need to be a coach, not a king.

[38:14] How to avoid burnout so that you can be there for your team and your company.


Mentioned in this Episode:


Brought to you by Red Team Thinking

American Icon: Alan Mulally and the Fight to Save Ford Motor Company, by Bryce Hoffman

Alan Mullaly’s Working Together Principles

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Ford Motor Co.

Boeing Co.

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More Episodes

Episode 1

Hear how Alan saved not one, but two iconic American companies.

Episode 2

On our second episode we get to hear from the creator of PreMortem Analysis.

Episode 3

You won't want to miss this episode on unlearning things in the corporate world.