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In this solo episode, Jan Griffiths shifts her podcast's focus to address the ongoing UAW strike's impact on the automotive industry. She spotlights Shawn Fain, the UAW President, highlighting his transparent communication while critiquing certain negotiating tactics. Jan explores the importance of leadership traits displayed during the strike, such as transparency, clear communication, and personal connection. While she appreciates these qualities in Fain, she advocates for a more collaborative approach between the OEMs and the UAW.
Jan emphasizes the critical need for Tier One leaders to adopt a coaching and nurturing approach with Tier Two suppliers, fostering trust and transparency amid industry challenges. Jan believes in the resilience of the automotive industry and its ability to weather this storm through authentic leadership. She commits to keeping listeners updated on the strike's progress and the complexities of restarting operations, encouraging all to step up as leaders and remain authentic in facing the uncertainties ahead.
Themes discussed in this episode:
- UAW Strike and Automotive Industry Impact
- Leadership Traits of Shawn Fain
- Tier Two Supplier Relationships
- Resilience and Authentic Leadership
Featured Guest: Jan Griffiths (Host)
What she does: Jan is the founder and CEO of Gravitas Detroit, an organization dedicated to cultivating authentic leadership in the automotive industry by providing courses, workshops, speaking events, and more. She is also the host of The Automotive Leaders Podcast.
On leadership: “We're resilient and tough, and we will survive. We know how to survive. This is a real test for us right now. It's a real test for our leadership. This is a time for authentic leadership to shine.”
Mentioned in this episode:
- Shawn Fain, UAW President
- Episode 104: UAW Strike and the Automotive Industry: Supply Chain Insights with Tor Hough and Sig Huber
- CIE Newcor
- LM Manufacturing
[00:00:01] Shift in focus: The episode marks a departure from the podcast's usual content to address the UAW strike and its implications for the automotive industry.
[00:02:22] Shawn Fain's leadership: Jan Griffiths discusses the leadership qualities displayed by Shawn Fain, the President of the UAW, during the strike. She acknowledges his transparent communication but criticizes certain bullying tactics.
[00:08:13] Tier two supplier vulnerability: The fragility of the tier two supply base is emphasized, particularly in the face of plant shutdowns caused by the strike. Jan stresses the importance of Tier One leaders adopting a coaching and nurturing approach with their Tier Two suppliers.
[00:09:53] Need for collaboration: The episode advocates for a more collaborative relationship between the OEMs and the supply based, encouraging open dialogue and human-to-human conversations.
[00:11:17] Resilience and authentic leadership: The episode underscores an enduring theme—the remarkable resilience of the automotive industry. It emphasizes the critical role of authentic leadership, especially in times of crisis, as a driving force behind the industry's ability to navigate challenges and persevere.
[00:11:50] Future updates: Jan commits to providing ongoing updates on the strike's progress and the challenges of restarting operations. She invites her audience to contribute ideas and insights for future episodes.
[00:07:45] Jan: “I would love to see a much more collaborative relationship between the OEMs and the UAW.”
[00:10:26] Jan: “If we don't open up these communications and get a greater level of honesty and transparency, and trust with our suppliers, we're never going to get through this.”
[00:11:09] Jan: “The only way that we're going to get through this is by making human connections and building on trust and transparency”
[00:11:16] Jan: “We know as an industry, we are strong, we are tough, we are resilient. And we have gotten through everything in over 100 years to get us where we are today.”
Mentioned in this episode:
Welcome to the automotive leaders podcast, where we help you prepare for the future by sharing stories, insights and skills from leading voices in the automotive world with a mission to transform this industry together. I'm your host, Jan Griffiths, that passionate, rebellious farmer's daughter from Wales, with over 35 years of experience in our beloved auto industry, and a commitment to empowering fellow leaders to be their best authentic selves. Stay true to yourself, be you and lead with Gravitas, the hallmark of authentic leadership, let's dive in.Jan Griffiths:
We taking a break from our normally scheduled programming, as they like to say on the TV, we are focusing our attention over the next few weeks to what's happening right now in our industry, as we deal with this unprecedented situation of the UAW strike and the big three. So we're gonna put a pause on the long form interviews for a while long-form and continue to bring content that contributes to the conversation and the situation that we find ourselves in right now. Today is Wednesday, September the 20th. I'm recording this solo episode, it'll be a short episode. And the next few weeks, I'm going to record content and interview people that can contribute to the situation that we find ourselves in today. Last week, I spoke with Tor Hough and Sig Huber, and we talked about supplier risk, supplier risk assessment, and the weaknesses in the Tier Two supply base. I've been talking about the Tier Two supply base situation all week on the media. I don't know what's happened, but I seem to be everywhere talking about this situation. What we're not talking about, again, is culture and leadership. And maybe I did touch on it a little bit in a few of the interviews. But let's talk about leadership. What type of leadership do we see in front of us right now, between the OEMs and the UAW? And what type of leadership traits do we need to employ to get us through this situation? Let's take it from the top, shall we? And I hesitate because this is a bit of an uncomfortable thing to talk about. But like most of you, I've been in the corporate world in automotive for many, many years, decades, in fact, and I'm sort of pre-programmed to come out on the side of the big three because that's where I've lived my life. And let's face it, corporate automotive, big three, and the tier ones, you're my clients. So there's that weighing heavily on my mind, but I'm all about authentic leadership and saying what you think, are within reason. So, here we go, as I started to watch, Shawn Fain, President of the UAW, I started to see him on TV in the initial phases of his Facebook Lives. And, you know, originally, I thought, oh, what is this guy? What does he do? What does he think he's doing? He's not doing this the right way. He's never gonna get anywhere. And then I found myself riveted to those Facebook Live. I found myself hanging on his every word. And I kind of hated myself for it. Wait a minute, you're not supposed to like this guy. This is where I have come out on my opinion of Shawn Fain. And it is my opinion doesn't reflect the opinion of anybody else. And the behavior of the UAW and the behavior of the OEMs. We all know that the OEMs have had way too much power for too long. I don't know about you, but I've always lived in and a bit in fear of the OEMs because they have so much influence over our revenues, over our lifestyles, over our paychecks that we don't like to go up against them too much and we tend to do what they want. And what's happening right now with the strike is that that is not happening. And you have to love the fact that Shawn Fain, whether you love him or hate him, is standing up to the big three. I kinda like that. What I don't like is the bullying tactics. And quite frankly, I think, the way that we're seeing this play out right now is taken us back decades. I talk all day long about moving away from the command and control leadership model and culture in the automotive industry and employing a more authentic leadership style. And what we see playing out before us right now has taken us back decades, we are back into the bullying tactics. You know, Shawn Fain comes out with very aggressive fighting language and a bullying approach, and a strong stance that basically says, "do this or else." And now you see the OEMs coming back and saying, "Okay, well, if you do that, I'm going to do this. If you strike over here, I'm going to lay people off over there." And we're going to see a few more rounds to that before we settle. But having said that, and I'm reluctant to admit this, but I got to be honest here. I kinda like the level of transparency that he's bringing to the table. We have never seen anything like it in this industry. But we know exactly what's going on. And he's keeping the people informed. And he's using technology to do that. He's using Facebook Live. And I kind of like that. He has got communication, he's got it. He has all of his people supporting him. After all, aren't those some of the key tenets of authentic leadership, to be able to rally your people, to get your people with you, to get your people to take the hill with you? He's been doing that. And he's been doing it in a very calm, very measured, intentional way. If you look at him on his Facebook Lives, he's not all bluster and emotional and screaming and yelling, no, he shows the right level of emotion. And he's very clear. And there is no disputing the fact of what he's talking about and what he means. So bringing clarity and calm to the situation. Those are two traits of great leadership that I cannot take away from him. Transparency is the second one. I love the fact that we know exactly what he wants, and where the big three stands at any given point in time. And the final thing is the communication. How he's communicating the technology that he's using is great, because he's able to send his message in a very personal way to not only the UAW but to everybody who's involved or has an interest in this process. I also like the way that he weaves in a personal connection. In the last one I saw, he's talking about using his grandmother's bible in a very personal way. In fact, he looked like he was almost going to fall apart in tears when he's talking about it, showing a level of vulnerability, again, a great authentic leadership trait. I don't profess to know Shawn Fain. I don't profess to have all the answers. But there's one thing that I do know whether you love him or hate him. There are some strong leadership traits coming out of the President of the UAW. But to balance that, there are also some awful bullying traits that I absolutely don't like. I would love to see a much more collaborative relationship between the OEMs and the UAW.Jan Griffiths:
Well, time will tell we'll see what happens on Friday. We know that he's gonna take some more plants out on strike. And we'll see if the bullying tactics continue. We all know that both sides will have to settle sometime soon. We don't know what that timeframe is because our Tier Two supply base is crumbling. I see a warn notice being filed out there by CIE Newcor, just recently talking about layoffs taking effect October 2nd. And now I see another announcement with LM Manufacturing, laying off 650 people because of the strike. And these are just two that we know of right now there are more right behind it. We know that our supply base in Tier Two supply base is extremely fragile. They barely recovered from COVID and the chip crisis. Now they're having to deal with raw material increases, utility increases, wage increases, you name it. They're having to juggle all of that, and their income and cash, in many cases, has just been shut off, and the uncertainty of the situation, we don't know what plants are going to go down on Friday, and how that's going to impact the supply base, particularly the Tier Two supply base. So leadership, switching from Shawn Fain's leadership to leadership at the Tier One supply base, we have got to make sure that we nurture and coach the Tier Two supply base through this process. I know those two words, sound alien to us in the tier one supply base. Because we're used to taking a more direct aggressive approach, this is not the time to be doing that. This is the time to be opening up those communication lines with our Tier Two supply base, understanding their pain points, helping them. Remember, we come from a culture where there's a lot of fear, and that fear has been driven down from the OEMs. The Tier Ones, we don't want the OEMs in our operations in any way, shape, or form. And the Tier Twos feel the same way about the Tier Ones. And so they tend to hold information close to the chest, they don't want to disclose information, because they don't want some aggressive purchasing person or supplier development team going in there and getting in their shorts and into their operations. But if we don't open up these communications and get a greater level of honesty and transparency, and trust with our suppliers, we're never going to get through this.Jan Griffiths:
So my message to Tier One leaders out there would be simply this employ a more coaching, nurturing approach to the tier ones, talk to them. Don't do it with corporate speak on email. You know what I'm gonna tell you this is a good time for a podcast, but maybe not because I understand the cash constraints, too. But have conversations have human-to-human conversations, real people don't just send emails out there to the supply base. I know there are a lot of people deal with out there. But that's the only way that we're going to get through this is making human connections and building on trust and transparency. We know as an industry, we are strong, we are tough, we are resilient. And we have gotten through everything in over 100 years to get us where we are today. And we'll be standing here 100 years from now, well, maybe not personally. But we will survive. We're resilient and tough, and we will survive. We know how to survive. This is a real test for us right now. It's a real test for our leadership. This is a time for authentic leadership, to shine. So, stay tuned, I will produce another episode next week with some more information around leadership and what's happening with the strike. And then after that, once we know where we're headed with the strike, and we're over it, we'll probably have an episode that talks around, starting back up again because the restart will be a whole another issue for us we'll have to deal with. And then I'm going to take a break for a few weeks and close season four and then start up with season five. I like to take some time to step back away from the podcast, away from you, my beloved audience, and make sure that we're delivering content that really is valuable to you. And if you ever want to talk to me about that or have some ideas that you want to contribute, please email me directly. You can reach me at email@example.com. Until then, step up and lead and be your 100 beautiful, authentic self.Jan Griffiths:
Thank you for listening to the Automotive Leaders podcast. Click the Listen link in the show notes to subscribe for free on your platform of choice. And don't forget to download the 21 Traits of Authentic Leadership PDF by clicking on the link below. And remember, stay true to yourself, be you, and lead with Gravitas, the hallmark of authentic leadership.