Mary Barra recently became the CEO of GM. I was surprised and pleased to hear this, as the auto industry is not known for having many women in leadership positions, but Barra doesn’t share the opinion that her gender in relation to her new job is a big deal. In a recent Forbes article, Barra is quoted as saying, “I’ve never approached any assignment as, ‘I’m a woman doing this job.’ It doesn’t factor into my thinking…I’m Mary doing this job. I want to be valued for leading the team, and the results we achieve and having the right relationships with stakeholders… across the board. That’s how I look at my role.”
When working on projects and deciding on strategic directions, Barra asks for input from multiple sources in the company, and pushes the engineers and designers to “rethink assumptions.” She is also described as methodical, logical, fair, and provocative. She believes that her abilities to build teams and find consensus play an important role in becoming a CEO: “I’ve always been focused on winning the hearts and minds of the employee base. When you’re aligned you’ll have superior business results.” Barra has the qualities of a true high road leader.