Why didn't we listen to Henry Ford?

Last week, I delivered a program on leadership that spoke to the nature of leadership presence, our impact on others, and the importance of creating a positive climate in which others can apply their strengths and excel.
Sidebar conversations emerged about the “reality” that emotions are neither acknowledged nor respected in the workplace, and the only thing that gets rewarded or appreciated is the application of intellectual skills. People are neither trained in interpersonal skills nor rewarded for having them in many circumstances. There is often a complete disconnect between the reality that people are what make the organization successful and the context that the business exists only to create profits for stakeholders.
The following day I came across a quote attributed to Henry Ford — the man who created the assembly line, an invention that nearly led to the extinction of the human spirit in the organization.  I have a sense that was not his intent as I read the following:

“The smallest indivisible reality is, to my mind, intelligent and is waiting there to be used by human spirits if we reach out and call them in. We rush too much with the nervous hands and worried minds. We are impatient for results. What we need…. is reinforcement of the soul by the invisible power waiting to be used. I know there are reservoirs of spiritual strength from which we human beings thoughtlessly cut ourselves off…. I believe we shall someday be able to know enough about the source of power, and the realm of the spirit to create something ourselves…. I firmly believe that mankind was once wiser about spiritual things than we are today. What we now only believe, they knew.
~~ Henry Ford, Detroit News, February 7, 1926.

Emphasis at the end is mine.  “what we now only believe, they knew.”  So, in the early days of the modern age, we had a leader who sensed that disconnection between spirit & soul versus the business world.  He called for a reinforcement of the soul and reconnection to spiritual strength.
Why didn’t we listen to Henry Ford?

Read more articles like this one in: In the workplace, Leadership, Relationships

Comments 2

  1. Hi Jim,
    Did you know that Henry Ford believed in the worth of social dancing and for that reason, had a dancing pavilion on his estate? I still recall admiring that pavilion when I toured the estate when I was in middle school (I grew up in Lansing, Michigan).
    On a more relevant note, my recent blog “Bravery in Business” also deals with the disconnect between business and our emotions. The article was inspired by the audio version of “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” when Hermione, a major character in the book said “It’s bravery, friendship and kindness that matter.”
    Have a fabulous Monday…

  2. Andrea, as you point out, the signs of this disconnection are everywhere. I am not surprised that Hermione realized this — she is the most grounded of the trio.

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