Feature

GM’s CEO proving she has guts

General Motors’ new CEO, Mary Barra, is showing other corporate leaders how it’s done.

Michael Wolff
USA Today

General Motors’ new CEO, Mary Barra, is showing other corporate leaders how it’s done, said Michael Wolff. The carmaker has been getting slammed recently thanks to its recall of 1.6 million vehicles with faulty ignition switches that have been linked to a dozen deaths, a problem “GM knew about for a decade.” But while the company’s new chief executive “could have personally sidestepped” this crisis—she’s only been in the job for two months, and it “didn’t happen on her watch”—Barra is “owning it” instead. These days, most corporate leaders “prefer to keep their heads down, to be inside players, to protect themselves.” But not Barra. And it’s hard to imagine any other current non-tech-company CEO “who would not wince or even recoil at that management style.” GM’s new leader is doing more than “just apologizing and accepting accountability,” she’s also “announcing herself” as the kind of corporate leader who’s not afraid to be publicly front and center. Barra’s bold move could certainly backfire, but it is clearly putting “the rest of American C-suites” to shame in the meantime. “In one day,” Barra may have made herself “the most prominent major CEO in industrial America.”

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