There are many values visible in the life of Henry Ford that enabled him to be a highly successful business leader. However, it seems that his value of employees, belief in equality and emotional intelligence truly set him apart from others. Henry Ford’s leadership qualities enabled him to change the trajectory of workplace practices.
1) He valued human capital
Ford set a terrific example for valuing human capital. Though it was a shock to Wall Street, he increased worker’s wages to five dollars a day and instituted an eight-hour workday. He recognized that increasing wages and offering reasonable hours would serve to retain and motivate employees. “Because Ford had lowered his costs per car, the high wages didn’t matter – except for making it feasible for more people to buy cars” (Iacocca , Inc). Henry Ford even said “There is one rule for the industrialist and that is: make the best quality goods possible at the lowest cost possible, paying the highest wages possible” (Forbes).
2) He believed in equality
Henry Ford’s business decisions in the realm of diversity were a catalyst for the growth of equality in the workplace. He offered employment to women, African Americans, and disabled individuals long before most other businesses did so (Forbes). In 1916, Ford employed individuals representing 62 different nationalities. At that time, the company also employed over 900 people with disabilities. Through the years, Ford went on to set standards of non-discrimination and equalize opportunities in many ways (Ford).
3) He was emotionally intelligent
Before the term emotionally intelligent was even coined, Henry Ford appeared to embody this quality. His ability to understand that saving clients money made them feel more valued was a sure sign of emotional intelligence. He was sensitive to economic needs and took action to respond to customers in ways that showed he cared. Similarly, he was in-tune with the financial and work life balance needs of employees. Because he hoped to show appreciation and understanding toward them, he implemented positive wage and shift changes. Ford even said “If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle, as well as your own.”
Like many leaders, Henry Ford broke away from standards. He was the fish that ventured away from its school and tried something different. He was also keenly in touch with people’s needs, which enabled him to know how to help them and in turn run a successful business.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons (Public Domain)
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