Developing-Leaders-issue - 23- Spring - 2016

Executive Development 46 | Developing Leaders Issue 23: 2016 Since becoming CEO of General Motors, Mary Barra has been one of the world’s most-watched executives. Like everyone else, we have been following the company’s progress under Barra’s leadership and would like to share some observations about her management style as she works to build upon the success of the past two years. W hen Mary Barra became CEO of General Motors, the auto industry was emerging from some difficult times, and GM was on the path to regaining some hard-won stability. In selecting Barra, the Board chose to tap homegrown talent – Barra came up through the ranks – rather than looking outside the company. Shortly after Barra took over, GM was confronted with the ignition switch crisis as well as a series of other recalls. Barra’s knowledge of GM and its unique dynamics would prove critical as the company worked to regain its footing. During this time of intense media scrutiny, it looked like Barra might be facing a no-win situation, or what some researchers call the ‘glass cliff’. The term, coined by University of Exeter psychologists Michelle Ryan and Alex Haslam, suggests that women are breaking the glass ceiling only to tumble over a figurative cliff. Ryan and Haslam theorize that women are often promoted to dangerous jobs during a crisis – when the risk of failure is high – only to absorb the blame when their efforts fail or are slow to produce results. Leadership Journeys Mary Barra – Harnessing Kinetic Energy at General Motors By Bob Rosen