What is the Henry Ford Leadership Style?

Henry Ford

Founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford is noted in history for his then-unique style of leadership, ultimately contributing to the success of his company

Famous for revolu­ti­onising the manuf­ac­turing industry, the way Henry Ford ran his company and treated his first employees has been championed for decades. We’re going to look into what methods he implemented, the effect they had and how they can be used in the 21st century.


Who Was Henry Ford?

Born in 1863, Henry Ford had an interest in engines and manuf­ac­turing from a young age. He began working at the Edison Company in Detroit, owned and operated by the equally-famous Thomas Edison. In 1893, he became Chief Engineer at the plant. This increase in resources, being time and money, allowed Ford to continue his passion projects on gasoline engines during his spare time. In 1896, he managed to complete his first motor vehicle, the Ford Quadricycle. In the same year, he met Thomas Edison who was made aware of his experiments. He approved of his Quadricycle and encouraged him to build a second model, which was completed in 1898.


Henry Ford Leadership - Ford Quadricycle

Henry Ford's Quadricycle - 1896


Henry Ford’s Leadership Style

Not only did Ford revolu­ti­onise the way products are created and brought about the era of mass manuf­ac­turing, but he is also noted in history for how he treated his employees. As he was someone who had struggled in his own life, he adopted a culture of empathy for his workers. For example, he raised wages at the company to $5/hour, whilst other competitors at the time were barely paying their employees $2/hour. As well as this, he made an effort to include employing women and people with disabilities when at the time, this was a rare policy that many workplaces did not consider. He made sure that employee benefits reached everybody in his company, where he also employed people from over 60 different nati­ona­lities too.

Ford was also noted for a “­dictatorial” style of leadership. Whilst he clearly showed appreciation and respect for his workers, he is known for keeping tabs on the lives of his employees both in and outside of the workplace. However, despite facing criticisms from labour unions and those who opposed his political views, he demonstrated the ability to learn from his mistakes when things didn’t go to plan. This ability to admit failure and being able to push on with new solutions is part of the reason why Ford still remains one of the best-known and successful car manuf­ac­turers in the world.


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