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Truth Drives Ford Forward

YOU would expect a man who is the Leadership Development Director of a major car retailer to have drive. Well, in association with The Naked Leader, John Leathem is steering Ford Retail to a culture of openness and transparency, through the ‘Elephant in the Room’ approach, part of the wider leadership transformation programme in Ford Retail, and a session that has been carried out in clients throughout the world, across every culture.

Also known as ‘Truth in the Room’, the session provides a platform to improve communication, honesty and openness among colleagues to create a ‘truthful’ culture, without fear of reprisal, in particular regarding a hitherto taboo subject.

John believes there is a real learning point to be shared with like-minded organisations: ‘The sessions are a good starting point for a change in culture, providing a forum where it is okay to be honest,” he says.

‘Of course if a company feels they already have transparency and openness among their staff then it is not needed. As a company Ford Retail has strategic goals over five years and in order to achieve those goals we realised we had to be smarter in the way we work to achieve them.’

Linking up with Naked Leader paved the way for exposure to the ‘Elephant in the Room.’

In simple terms, whoever is holding the elephant says whatever they want; while everyone else listens (that’s really listens). ‘You only have permission to speak while you are holding it,’ explains John.

‘Rather than being in the spotlight, it is the opposite in a way because when a person is holding the elephant it becomes their protection. They are in a safe place with permission to say exactly what is on their mind. It is the first step to introducing and embedding openness as a culture.’

In keeping with the Naked Leader’s philosophy of dispelling jargon and getting straight to the point of an issue, John adds: ‘It takes out the hierarchy and management and comes down to the human element. It’s incredibly disciplined and a real leveller. You are in a safe place to express your feelings. I would recommend the way Naked Leader runs the sessions. It really works.”

Could your company benefit? If so, why not discover more about how the Naked Leader can help your business, linking behavioural and leadership skills with hard business evidence and results –

3 Responses to Truth Drives Ford Forward

  1. Enjoyed the article a lot. John Leathem sounds a very pragmatic individual and has obviously benefited.

  2. there is something special about the concept. Getting people to open up in such a way can only be good for a company.
    I really enjoyed it too and may start to implement something similar at work.

  3. We have elephant sessions and it brings people out of their shell.
    Just to talk to someone about a grievance and get it off your chest in such a way is superb therapy.

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