Occasionally we find a leader with the talent to embed a new team culture throughout the organization. Such is the remarkable story of Alan Mulally, former CEO of Boeing and Ford. Mulally was clear and proscriptive about behavior, both at the senior leadership team level and at Ford as a whole, as a key to achieve high performance. On the back of a small blue card, Mulally listed the four Expected Behaviors for all Ford people to embody:

Foster Functional and Technical Excellence

Own Working Together

Role Model Ford Values

Deliver Results

  1. Foster Functional and Technical Expertise

  • Know and have a passion for our business and our customers

  • Demonstrate and build functional and technical excellence

  • Ensure process discipline

  • Have a continuous improvement philosophy and practice

As the former CEO of PepsiCo, Roger Enrico used to say, “Know your business cold.” Mulally made it known that every employee should understand this point. It’s not surprising that this was the first of his expected behaviors as Mulally was an engineer, himself.

At Ford, you are expected to be really good at your job and become the ‘expert.’’ I was also struck by this when I coached Ford executives. In a highly technical field such as the automotive industry, the only way to stay ahead is by ensuring that deep expertise is groomed within the company.

2. Own Working Together

  • Believe in skilled and motivated people working together,

  • Include everyone; respect, listen to, help and appreciate others,

  • Build strong relationships, be a team player; develop ourselves and others,

  • Communicate clearly, concisely and candidly.

Mulally wanted people to really believe it. Of all the behaviors, this one is probably the most unique and was the cornerstone to forming high Team Quotient at Ford.

Working together means several things. First, it means cooperation to get things done and find solutions. In my own work with Ford as a client, the level of natural cooperation always strikes me. In one case, two parties in Ford discovered the conference room was double booked. The two parties didn´t know each other, but actually worked together to find a solution and another space instead of battling over the space.

The other area of working together is collaboration. In my own work with Ford involving a companywide coaching project, it became apparent that HR needed advice, opinions, and experience that went beyond their own expertise. They set up a ‘Consultative Forum’ across businesses and functions to act as consultants on the project. This Forum was a venue in which all contributed with the best of intentions and ‘worked together’ to create a successful result.

3. Role Model Ford Values

  • Show initiative, courage, integrity, and good corporate citizenship,

  • Improve quality, safety, and sustainability,

  • Have a can-do, find-a-way attitude, and emotional resilience,

  • Enjoy the journey and each other; have fun–but never at other’s expense”.

Most organizations have developed, and perhaps communicated a set of values, however Mulally went beyond that. He was interested in “role modeling the values.” In the program I worked on with Ford, I remarked upon the importance placed on role modeling. All executives are expected to be the role models, to “walk the talk.” They are expected to set an example for others, especially for junior members of the Ford team. Ford is somewhat unique in that executives are expected to “park their egos” for the greater good.

4. Deliver Results

  • Deal positively with our business realities; develop compelling and comprehensive plans while keeping an enterprise view,

  • Set high expectations and inspire others,

  • Make sound decisions using facts and data,

  • Hold ourselves and others responsible and accountable for delivering results and satisfying our customers.

At the end of the day, if leaders embody the first three behaviors but don’t focus on the results, the organization won’t be around very long. That is why it is incumbent upon Ford employees to exhibit the behavior of delivering results. It reflects a mindset that we are here to produce results, not just report on or talk about them.

Mulally did the heavy lifting to ensure that each employee could embody the four behaviors, thereby instilling a level of ‘conscious behavior.’ When a company can truly imbue its employees with ‘conscious behavior,’ it has succeeded in integrating its culture throughout the organization.

Douglas Gerber is Founder and CEO of Focus One, a consulting firm that helps leaders create High Performance Teams. After 23 years as a corporate executive, he developed a reputation for building successful teams. Later, as a consultant, he has personally worked with leaders from over 70 companies to develop their own winning Teams. Drawing from his own extensive background and 10 years of research, Douglas innovated the concept of “Team Quotient” (TQ). He is a thought leader in the area of team transformation. Learn more about Douglas and his upcoming book Team Quotient: How to Build High Performance Leadership Teams that Win Every Time on

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