Recently, a client handed me a documentary titled simply Henry Ford. He asked me to watch this so I could gain a better understanding of him. Henry Ford ushered in the Industrial revolution with his Model T, mechanical genius, innovative assembly line, and incredible will to work. Henry was a great genius, yet he couldn’t get out of his own way. He couldn’t see what was right in front of him. Henry was a control freak and his inability to trust others (except the thug Harry Bennett) limited his company. And, it limited his relationships namely with his only son, Edsel.
My client cannot relate to Henry, you see, but he can to Edsel.
The enemy of many visionary leaders is their inability to see their limitations. They can see far into the future and envision something far more ground breaking than simply a faster horse. Visionary leaders can change the world through their creative genius. We need them. And, they need really strong men and women beside them – men and women with far different strengths than their own. Visionary leaders must, unlike Henry, pick their inner circle carefully, thoughtfully, and lean against some of their own prejudices and or tendencies. Every Henry needs an Edsel or two to compliment their strengths. Too often, however, we Henry’s choose a Harry because he/she so reminds us of ourselves. Not good.
Henry saw the future with 20/20 clarity yet he somehow couldn’t see his son. What, visionary leader, are you failing to see that’s right in front of you? Visionary leaders, oftentimes, miss the obvious. Slow down and reflect. Good…