The Future of Automotive Leadership: Gen Z and Millennial Views on Mary Buchzeiger

The Future of Automotive Leadership: Gen Z and Millennial Views on Mary Buchzeiger

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Episode Summary 

Would you work for Mary Buchzeiger? Following her electrifying interview with the CEO of Lucerne International, Jan invites two automotive leaders of different generations to deconstruct Mary’s inspiring — and unconventional — company culture of trust and accountability.

Seeking both Gen Z and Millennial perspectives on the future of automotive leadership, Jan speaks to two rising stars in the auto industry. Mary Mason is a Senior HR Business Partner at AirBoss, and Mark Hebert is a Vice President of Sales and Business Development at Woodbridge. While both of them look up to Mary Buchzeiger’s ideals, they find them difficult to live out in practice.

“Building that structure of trust and accountability can definitely be a struggle,” Mary Mason says. 

From rising costs and supply chain issues to work-life balance and raising kids, automotive leaders face no shortage of challenges. How can leaders build the kind of culture that Mary Buchzeigher describes?

On this episode of the Automotive Leaders Podcast, Jan and her guests get real about why so many companies struggle with fostering trust and empowering their employees. Yet there is hope for the future. Gen Z especially has little tolerance for outdated systems of management, and they’re making moves to do something about it. Mary Buchzeiger’s model of resilience shows that leaders don’t have to be aggressive in order to be strong.

Themes discussed on this episode: 

  • Self-awareness in leadership and the ability to pivot
  • How to bring levity while keeping a meeting on task
  • Gender equity and changing expectations in the workforce
  • Power dynamics that hinder a culture of trust
  • Accountability systems that lead to results

Featured Guest: Mary Mason

What she does: Mary is a Senior HR Business Partner at AirBoss supporting both plant and corporate employees. She worked her way up since joining the company as an intern four years ago.

On leadership: “It’s really important to have [a trusting] relationship and rapport with your employees, to have them give you honest feedback and to get criticism. You don't want sycophants on the team, right? You can't just agree to everything.”

Featured Guest: Mark Hebert

What he does: Mark is the Vice President of Sales and Business Development for North and South America at Woodbridge. As a provider of global material technologies, Woodbridge serves a diverse customer base in automotive, healthcare, packaging and other industries. 

On leadership: “From a leadership standpoint, as long as I have clear goals and objectives — I've been told what the expectation is and I'm given the freedom to try to meet those challenges however I want to — I will be happy with that. I don't need things to be perfect.”

Episode Highlights

Timestamped inflection points from the show

[3:08] What stood out to you?: Mary and Mark share their favorite moments of the Mary Buchzeiger interview. Many of her ideals are challenging to emulate.

[7:50] Throwing squirrels: Jan and her guests react to Mary Buchzeiger’s unusual way of keeping a meeting on task.

[11:01] Meetings are an art form: Mark explains the importance of both having some levity and measurable goals in a meeting agenda.

[15:08] Family matters: The conversation turns to Mary Buchzeiger’s supportive marriage. It’s personal for Mark as he shares about the sacrifice his wife makes for their family.

[18:30] Gender equity: Jan discusses the stigma around choosing family over work, and Mark predicts a big change that companies will need to make to keep Gen Z leaders on their teams.

[22:44] 21 Traits: Mary names her top three from Jan’s 21 Traits of Authentic Leadership and shares why leaders need to welcome honest feedback. As for Mark, everything comes down to just one leadership trait.

[27:42] Advice for auto industry leaders: Bosses have more control over their employees than they often realize. Jan, Mary and Mark discuss the implications of this power imbalance.

[31:38] The F-bomb: Feelings: With so much emphasis on goals and metrics, what about the emotional component of leadership? Jan and Mary share their thoughts.

[33:14] Closing comments: Would you work for Mary Buchzeiger? Mary and Mark submit their final answers — although Mark’s comes with an important caveat.

Top quotes

[19:50] Jan: “There's this thing called life, and there are many facets to it. You can't be all work.”

[24:06] Jan: “You talk to any leader and they'll say, ‘Oh, I empower my team.’ And then next thing you know, they're the most ridiculous micromanager on the planet … You’ve got to give people things that really throw them in the deep end and let them sink or swim.”

[27:53] Jan: “When you control the paycheck, you control [your employees’] lives. You control their ability to pay their mortgage, to put food on the table, and to live the life they want to live. … It's something that you've got to be very careful with, and it's something that you have to respect.”

[30:09] Mary: “[Pushing back] helps better the business … The people that have egos, you can't push them nearly as hard, right? So they're getting less feedback from their team.”

[31:30] Mark: “I've worked for some great men and women throughout my career. I've seen some really good examples, and I've tried to pull from every single one of them. I think it's a lot of like, ‘How did that make me feel when that situation came up? Okay, I never want to make someone feel like that.’ Or, ‘I always wanna make someone feel like that.’”

Mentioned in this episode:

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