Notes On the World’s Best CEOs: Alan Mulally.

I’m starting a new series that gives you key bullet points on the world’s best performing CEOs.

It’s a checklist of sorts, that enables you to look at how the top guns work, with an eye for potentially adapting their methods to use in your own work life.

First up, is the brilliant Alan Mulally, who with Bill Ford famously turned around Ford without accepting government hand outs.

Here’s how he works:

* Arrives at the office at 5.15am and leaves around 5.30pm.

* Reviews the Ford business plan every week, with all key team members present.

* Always seeks to simplify. A key mantra is ” Improve focus. Simplify operations.”

* Emphasizes profitable growth, not merely a growing revenue curve.

* Never criticizes rivals. ” I’m not going to talk about GM and Chrysler. It’s just not my place.”

* Believes in what he calls ‘Positive Leadership’, always looking for solutions and acknowledging wins.

* Favorite phrase: ‘How cool is that?”

* Staff carry the Ford business plan on a card. Four main points.

* The entire company’s performance is put up on the walls of two rooms – 280 charts that outline all key results vs projections.

* Obsessively measures. Including traditionally soft areas such as brand preference.

* Has summarized what the Ford customer wants into 5 areas: Quality. Fuel efficiency. Safety. Smart design.Value.

* Constantly reads business books in his spare time. Also a competitive tennis and golf player.

* Leadership style: positive and upbeat, mixed with disarming honesty and forthrightness.

* Dedicated to company-wide communication. “Everyone has to know the plan, it’s status and areas that need attention.”

Have a think about this list. Ask yourself, what is Alan doing that I can incorporate into my own leadership style? Then pick the most important of these points and focus on it for the next 2 weeks. Then move to the next attribute you’d like to emulate.

We can all learn from the best – and Alan Mulally shines as a uncommon breed of CEO – one who has achieved stupendous results while at the same time being liked by the vast majority in his company. A rare achievement indeed.