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When Pigs Fly

Mark Fields has a tough job. As president of Ford Motor Company's North American operations, he is spearheading a restructuring effort that includes closing sixteen factories and eliminating almost 45,000 jobs. It's a necessary process because Ford continues to lose money; the company lost $7 billion in the first nine months of 2006.

But while asks workers to tighten their belts or make the ultimate job sacrifice for their company, Fields continued to enjoy a special perk. As part of his employment contract, he had use of a company jet for commuting to his primary residence in Florida. The cost to Ford: over $200,000 for the fourth quarter of 2005 alone.

Now when a local television station featured Fields in a story about the compensation packages of some of Detroit's automotive executives, current and former Ford employees found Fields' flying privileges disgusting. So, in a webcast to employees yesterday, Fields promised to stop using the corporate plane for his personal trips. Instead, Ford will pay for his airfare on commercial flights.

"He did not want that issue or any other issue to distract the North American team," said Tom Hoyt, a spokesperson for Ford. Sorry, Mr. Fields, you're too late for that. You see, when a leader in your position professes a value, like cost cutting for the good of the company, and then he flaunts a personal disregard for that value in the face of his employees, then that leader loses credibility.

To be sure, the piggish behavior of many top executives is robbing once-great companies like Ford of their reputations and, more importantly, of their employees' trust and respect.

Related Post: FORD: Fix or Repair Daily?

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