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Alan Mulally - How a Global CEO Balances Work & Family

alan mulally

by Tom Hasker, Associate Partner, Lighthouse International

Have you ever wondered how a CEO of a global company ever has the time to run the company and have a personal life? Is it true that you need to ‘become the company’ in order to lead it?

Alan Mulally is the former CEO of Ford Motor Company and as such was rather busy most of the time! One example being that every Thursday he would bring his top level executives from across the company together for a Business Plan Review (BPR) meeting at 7.30am.

Knowing Your Priorities & Having Self-Discipline Leads to a Balanced Life

There is a lot of self-discipline and focus needed with the responsibility to run a $63Bn company. It takes the ability to identify what is truly important to you and then create a balanced plan around those priorities. Mulally explains in this interview with McKinsey & Company;

McKinsey: "Running large companies is demanding, and you’ve been at this game a long time. How do you maintain your mental and physical stamina?"

Alan Mulally: "Everybody always talks about how you need to manage your time. You need to manage your energy as well. You first have to ask, “What gives me energy?” There can be lots of sources: your family, exercise, your spiritual well-being. Try to combine those, along with your work demands, into one integrated calendar so that everything is built into your lifestyle. You can get beyond having to tell yourself, “OK, I’m going to have my family life next year in August, on vacation.”

Instead, jot down what is really important to you, see if you have allocated time for it, and adjust the calendar if necessary. In our house, we had a family meeting every week—the family BPR—where we reviewed what we needed to do and the support required to get us through the week. It is another kind of process step, and a really important one."

As Mulally says, bringing order and structure to an incredibly busy life can often free up time for the most important things, but the start of that is knowing what the important things are in our lives to put first things first. Developing the ability to be a highly-capable CEO or for that matter a highly capable parent means adhering to basic fundamentals like identifying our priorities, having self-discipline and being organised in our lives. It's something all of us can learn to do and become better at while enjoying the benefits of more balance in our lives.

You can read the full interview: Leading the 21st Century: an interview with Ford’s Alan Mulally

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    Alan Mulally image courtesy of Wikimedia