“I’m not worried about whether he’ll endear himself to the people in the company,” Kelley says. “That’s his superpower. People will want to work for him, I promise.” It’s a point that he illustrates with a story: attending the Michigan-Ohio State football game at the University of Michigan in 2015, Kelley watched as Hackett (then U-M’s interim athletic director) walked out onto the field to shouts of “Ha-ckett! Ha-ckett! Ha-ckett!”
After just a year on the job, despite being only a temporary athletic director, he had amassed a following.
David Kelley, who founded the Silicon Valley-based design/consultation firm IDEO, has worked closely with Jim Hackett before; while Hackett was CEO of Steelcase in the 1990s, the company invested in IDEO, and the two executives forged a unique business relationship. The firms even went as far as setting up audio equipment in their respective offices to allow for real-time, around-the-clock collaboration between IDEO in Silicon Valley and Steelcase in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
“I’ve met a lot of CEOs. Jim’s a really exceptional person as well as an exceptional CEO,” Kelley says, adding that Hackett has a genuine interest in hearing from those he works over.
It doesn’t hurt that Jim Hackett has also garnered a reputation – both at Steelcase and in his short time with Ford Smart Mobility LLC – as someone who can feel out future trends. The automotive industry, which is changing dramatically as new technologies offer transformative opportunities, can benefit from more leaders with that gift.
(Source: Detroit Free Press)