Behind the Wheel with Phil Lebeau

Whitacre Settles In As Permanent GM CEO

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. And for the folks at GM, this is good news. Today Ed Whitacre Jr, the GM Chairman will announce he is taking the CEO job on a permanent basis. The move comes less than two months after Whitacre replaced Fritz Henderson as Chief Executive Officer. While some will dismiss this news as a natural development at GM, this is more than simply removing "interim" from Whitacre's CEO title.

It shows the top guy at GM plans on sticking around and making sure the automaker is truly headed in the right direction. Given everything GM has gone through, this is exactly what the company needs. Call it stability. I see it also as a clear sign the "Whitacre way" will be the marching orders at GM for a while.

Is the "Whitacre way" the right way for GM? That remains to be seen. Time will tell if his moves shuffling GM leadership will work. But one thing is certain, he won't be afraid to change quickly if the company is stalling.

And above all, the "Whitacre way" means making money. Doesn't matter if GM is great in various areas of the car business, if the company is not making money Whitacre and the GM board won't hesitate to make changes.

When big Ed was named Chairman by the auto task force, a lot of people speculated that he would spend 9 or 12 months overseeing GM and then ride off into the sunset with a nice paycheck and accolades for stabilizing the company. That's not happening. And for GM, that's a good thing.  As one well respected veteran of the auto industry said to me just last week, "Every successful auto company needs a benevolent dictator who sets the pace and isn't afraid of kicking ass to get the company where it needs to be."  Sounds a lot like GM's new CEO.


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