I learned about Carlos Ghosn while watching the documentary “Revenge of the Electric Car” and he comes across as the type of manager which, when it comes to getting things done, he takes no prisoners. His book Shift – Inside Nissan’s Historic Revival, argues a good point – with the right resources, willingness to succeed and a rock solid plan, even the most hopeless corporate situations care make the case for an impressive turnaround.
After being lured away from Michelin in 1996, Ghosn first accomplished this at Renault, where he implemented the 20 Billion Plan – a radical program of cost-cutting, designed to simplify the company’s industrial assets and increase the utilization rate of their existing facilities. Despite heavy political pressure, Renault management stood firm, and so by 1997 Renault was again profitable.
He then took over the reins of the newly created Renault – Nissan alliance in 1999. The Japanese manufacturer, back then confronted with severe financial problems, was to be transformed through Ghosn’s Nissan Revival Plan (NPR) launched in October the same year. Ghosn promised that (1) Nissan would return to financial stability within a year of the implementation of the plan; (2) within 3 years its debt would be reduced in half; and (3) they would significantly improve their operating margin.
Through resourcefulness and cross-functional joint efforts from both companies, all objectives were met before March 2002. They continued pushing the gas pedal and in the fiscal year 2003, Nissan was to become the most profitable large automotive manufacturer in the world, as to confirm one of Ghosn’s convictions throughout the book “The only battles you are certain to lose are the ones you don’t fight”.
Wrapping up my post with a short paragraph from the book, one that resonates with my firm belief that leadership is not necessarily innate, but it can be cultivated through the opportunities one takes along the way.
Is there such a thing as a born leader? I don’t think so. Many people have an aptitude for leadership; there are more of them than you might think. They get sorted out according to the opportunities they have to exercise and develop that aptitude. If they’re in the right place at the right time, they get their first chance, they take up a challenge, and they win. Then comes along a second, and they win again. Their self-confidence grows, and that’s the way you form leaders.