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In his book “The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership”, John Maxwell tells the story of one of the most incredible restorations in American business history. It happened at the Chrysler Corporation in the early 1980’s. Chrysler was in a mess, despite a long history of success. At one point in Chrysler’s history they had captured an incredible 25% of the entire domestic automobile market. By the time the 1970’s rolled around, the Chrysler Corporation was in a steady decline. By 1978 they only had 11% of the market. Things looked bleak. The company was headed toward bankruptcy. In November 1978, Chrysler brought a new leader to take over the company. His name was Lee Iacocca. Iacocca had just left Ford in 1978 after serving as their president. When he left Ford, the company, under his leadership, was earning record profits of 1.8 billion in each of the last two years. The task of turning around Chrysler proved to be enormous. Iacocca described the company as having been run like a small grocery store, despite its size. There were no viable financial systems or controls in place, production and supply methods were a mess, products were built poorly, and nearly all of the divisions were run by turf-minded vice presidents who refused to work as a team. Morale was very low throughout the company, customer loyalty was low, and the company continued to lose money. Iacocca did everything he knew how to turn things around. He replaced 33 of the 35 vice presidents. He brought in the best leaders he could find. He reduced as many expensed as he could. He grudgingly and humbly went before Congress for loan guarantees so that Chrysler would not go bankrupt. Finally, he reduced his own salary to $1.00 a year. Iacocca brought about a total restoration to the Chrysler Corporation. By 1983, Chrysler was able to pay back its loans. Before he retired, Chrysler had gained 16% of the market, double what it was in the first years he took over. The company has fought its way back and been restored to a growing, profitable industry.

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