Good Example Of Transforming And Leading Change At Aston Martin: Andrew Palmer Essay
Andrew Palmer joined Aston Martin as the new Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in September 2014 from Nissan. While at Nissan, he worked as the chief planning officer and was in charge of Nissan’s Infiniti luxury product line. Before making this appointment, Aston Martin had been without a CEO for nine months after the former CEO, Ulrich Bez, resigned due to age. Prior to his arrival, Aston Martin was experiencing a period of financial difficulties with sales reducing to as low as 4,200 cars in the year 2013 from around 7,300 in 2007. The company was making huge losses and acquired a debt estimated at around £424 million. Consequently, the company was downgraded to a B minus by credit rating agencies. These prevailing conditions presented Palmer with a lot of challenges and expectations to meet. This article will analyze different aspects of business leadership and leaders with the aim of analyzing Palmer’s short career at the Aston Martin and the transformation that he has effected so far.
According to Bill George (Ch. 8), many people want to become leaders without considering what they are supposed to accomplish should they get that role. This is because some people are blinded by financial benefits, power and prestige that come with leadership. Without a clear purpose that can be seen and emulated by employees and that is beneficial to the company, no employee will want to dedicate their time and resources following such a leader. In his interview with Andrew English of Telegraph Cars, Palmer says that during the 15 years that he hopes to lead Aston Martin, his main purpose will be to make the car maker an independent car company, something that will make it the first of its kind in the United Kingdom. George also says that in order to find one’s purpose, a person must understand their passions. In the interview, Palmer says that while working for Nissan, he had a passion for making cars. This passion will be extended to his new position and will help him greatly in achieving his purpose for the company.
Palmer intends to turn around the reputation of the company. He has a plan for this that addresses the cost, revenue and stability since the company is making fewer sales at an increased production cost and this makes it unstable. Palmer intends to renew sports car models that are considered out of taste due to the fast-changing motor vehicle technology and bring back production and sales to at least 7,000 units a year. Finally, he will re-introduce the Lagonda [a model that went out of production] to compete with Rolls-Royce in the chauffeur-driven cars category especially in the Middle East and China. This move is in line with Batsone’s article because of several reasons. His plan will bring back the reputation of the company as a renowned sports car producer and seller. When this plan is achieved, profitability will be returned and preserved at the company.
Additionally, Batstone says that reputation is very important for a company because it is the character of the company in the eyes of the public. This reputation depends on the company’s ability to fulfill its obligations to all stakeholders involved. Once a business has acquired a good reputation, everyone will want to work in or with it. I believe Palmer has put in a significant amount of effort to restore Aston Martin’s reputation in the short time that he has been in control. For example, he introduced three electric car concept models at the Geneva Motor Show in April 2015. This move was meant to show the public that the company was reinventing itself in a bid to meet the expectations of its customers and gain its reputation back.
Before Palmer joined the company, two of its most important stakeholders Investindustrial and Investment Dar had not met to discuss the future of the company during its financial woes. However, after joining, he was able to set up a meeting between the two in Geneva. This move shows that his philosophy of leadership involves everyone at the company and he is not the only one who makes the decisions. Batstone says that workers need to trust their superiors in order to give the job all of their dedication. But trust is brought about by communication between employers and employees and involvement in the decision-making process. As such, Palmers move to bring the shareholders back to speaking terms was a major boost for the company since everyone was now involved in the decisions made to save the company.
George says that sometimes leaders fail to communicate with one another or with subordinates because they fear exposing their weaknesses to them. They want to be seen as being in control of everything. Palmer’s reputation as a good manager is one of the reasons that landed him the position of CEO at Aston Martin. This does not mean that he does not have his own weaknesses. The two shareholders may also have had their own weaknesses which were preventing them from meeting to discuss a feasible solution. Palmer’s ability to reach out to the shareholders and restore communication shows that he is not afraid of revealing his own weaknesses to other people. Additionally, this kind of communication creates trust which brings us back to the previous argument presented by Batstone.