Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie Leadership Styles

Henry Ford has been identified as an exemplary charismatic leader and Andrew Carnegie has been identified as an exemplary pragmatic leader

 There is no such thing called an ideal leader as all leaders from the past and present has shown some uniqueness in their leadership styles. A life story of a leader determines his/her values, which is reflected in his/her leadership practices and every life story is different from each other so are the leadership styles of leaders. In this article, I have compared and contrasted leadership styles of two historical leaders of modern industry age, Henry Ford and Andrew Carnegie derived from their life story.

Past Reflects Present

Both Ford and Carnegie had a decent family background and were born in the nineteenth century. Ford was born in 1863 A.D. in the middle-class family of the farmer. Carnegie was born in 1835 A.D. as a son of handloom weaver. Both had very little formal education, had left their home and started working at a very early age. Henry went to a one-room school for eight years; realizing his passion for machines he left his father home at age sixteen and started working as a machinist at a shipbuilding company in Detroit. Andrew had very little education, he moved to the United States of America at age twelve and started with entry-level jobs such as a telegraph operator, bobbin boy and a messenger.

Both achieved quick promotion in their workplace for their dedication and hard work. Ford started working as an engineer for Detroit based Edison Company in 1890 and soon got promoted to chief engineer because of his good performance. In 1853, Carnegie started his job as assistant and telegrapher at Pennsylvania Railroad and within three years he was promoted to superintendent because of his quick learning ability.Both had taken bold movement when they felt it’s the right time to do something on their own. Ford was more into the invention and Carnegie was more into making new investments. In 1896, while working as chief engineer in Edison Motor company, he builds his first model car called Ford Quadricycle; in 1903, backed up with seed capital he established Ford Motors. Carnegie began making investments while he was working in the Pennsylvania Railroad; realizing good return over investment, he left his job in 1865 and focused on doing his own business.

Family history of both leaders was not from the United States of America, (USA) but build their empire in the USA. Although born in the USA his Father was from England (Biography.com, 2019); he was American Industrialist and the founder of Ford Motor (the henry ford, 2019). Carnegie, though born in Scotland he was America’s Steel tycoon and founder of the Carnegie Steel Corporation, which was the largest steel industry of nineteenth-century in America. Both were also known for their philanthropic activities. Ford provided funding for peace ship to Europe, established the Ford foundation which granted money for research & development in the education sector; and provided profit sharing to his employees which were not in practice at that time. From as early at age of 33, Carnegie started doing philanthropic activities by building libraries, established Carnegie Institute of Technology and donated for international peace movement. 

Using the principles of Dale Carnegie, Henry Ford has been identified as an exemplary charismatic leader and Andrew Carnegie has been identified as an exemplary pragmatic leader.

Henry Ford as Charismatic Leader

Henry ford was true to himself (authentic). For example, when Model T was ready, Ford tested it through all tough situation that a car can be tested and tear the car apart; Model T had remained the same in terms of design & quality and was best-selling car worldwide for the next fifteen years. Ford had tried to see the problems from another viewpoint (perspective-taking and listening). For example, Ford was focused on building an affordable, durable and stylish car so that even medium-class could afford the luxury of their own car; his Model T car had uplifted the living standard of people, farmers were also able to travel to the city area with ease. Despite his business at Ford Motors, he had spent quality time with his family (achieving balance). He had been to various trips around the globe with his family, had parties together with his family and friends such as Thomas Edison, and he used to listen to his wife reading the newspaper every night before sleep. Along with the launch of Model T, he was enthusiastic to spend all of the time, effort, and focus of his stakeholders and employees completely on mass production that had eventually lowered down the cost of production, increased sales and brought fortune to the company. Ford was enthusiastic and had clearly communicated his message to his stakeholders. Thus, from above argument Henry Ford can be considered as charismatic leader. 

Andrew Carnegie as Pragmatic Leader

Andrew Carnegie had articulated the strong mission for his organization with his entire team with the idea of teaming up for tomorrow, which shows his characteristics as team-player and goal setting leader. For example, he was able to establish America’s largest steel plant via motivation and teamwork with his partners within a decade of its establishment. He had properly balanced his personal life and work (achieving balance). Carnegie often used to go to Europe with his family to enjoy his personal and family life. Carnegie was concerned with the solution of the problem and motivated his team to make them confident. For example, as mentioned in his autobiography, he has relentlessly motivated his brother Tom in his bad timings to pursue his dream, he was a very inspiring motivational speaker for his employees, had magnetic personality among his teammates and investors. Carnegie was very focused toward his goal and was characterized for maintaining discipline for his organization growth. For example, once his very close friend Thomas Miller was in a problematic situation with a local iron firm, but he did not take any action because this would have affected his organization overall goal. Thus, from the above argument Andrew Carnegie can be considered as a pragmatic leader.