Leadership

Ford CEO Mark Fields: 5 things all business leaders should be doing

For Ford Motor Company CEO and President Mark Fields, success is all about the team.

During his 25-plus-year career with the automotive giant, Fields has honed his ability to lead others. He recently shared five of his top management tips with CNBC.

1. Surround yourself with great people

Great teams start with rock star employees.

"Surround yourself with people that are smarter than you," said Fields, who oversees a company with more than 200,000 workers and 67 plants worldwide.

2. Listen more

Fields also stressed the importance of listening.

"Lead with questions, not answers," he said.

This approach leads to better results than thinking you have all the answers, especially if you've taken the first step of getting top talent in the room with you.

Mark Fields, CEO, Ford Motor Company
Jewel Samad | AFP | Getty Images
Mark Fields, CEO, Ford Motor Company

3. Seek out feedback

Managers may view themselves differently than their employees view them, so it's important to "constantly seek feedback and self-reflect," Fields said.

Leaders who seek feedback will not only grow; they will also end up with more satisfied teams, he said.

4. Don't immediately discount naysayers

Perhaps counterintuitively, one of the biggest mistakes Fields ever made while building a team was to dismiss the naysayers.

"You have to make the effort to include people and bring them along on the journey," he said.

However, the advice comes with a caveat: "At the end of the day, it can affect the rest of the team," he said.

When an employee is basically saying, "I don't want to participate," you have to act quickly and get them off the team.

5. Encourage risk taking

"Taking risks is extremely important," Fields said. "If you're not taking calculated risks as a business, you're probably going to be dying as a business over time."

As the steward of a 113-year-old brand, Fields encourages people to ask themselves how they can challenge tradition and avoid taking anything for granted.

"Without giving people permission to take risks," he said, "you'll never take risks."