In a somewhat unusual move, Honda’s President and CEO resigned last week. Takanobu Ito had held those positions since 2009. Most Honda CEOs hold office between five and eight years, so his six were normal.
Even more curious is his replacement. Takahiro Hachigo is not a top-level executive. He has worked for Honda his whole life, starting in 1982. Many senior-level people were passed over in Mr. Hachigo’s selection, and some people are wondering why Honda chose to reach that far down the ladder for its next leader.Honda unexpectedly reached down several levels to choose new CEO Mr. Hachigo. Click To Tweet
The leading reason is that people at the top offer more of the same. They got to where they are by thinking and performing safely, aligning themselves with those already at the top. If a company truly wants fresh direction, they cannot go to those who resemble the former CEO.
Mr. Hachigo’s most recent position was in the research and development department. He oversaw the company’s European and Chinese operations, which was a challenging blend of the old-old-world and the very new.
Mr. Hachigo has also worked in the United States. He led development on the very first-generation Odyssey minivan, a best-seller in the U.S., as well as the second-generation CR-V, also a smash hit. But the biggest difference between him and his predecessor appears to be his leadership style.Mr. Hachigo worked on the 1st gen Odyssey and 2nd gen CR-V. Click To Tweet
The New York Times spoke to Koji Endo, an analyst at a Japanese research firm. Mr. Endo says that Hachigo, “[Is] the sort of person who listens to everyone and promotes other people’s opinions.” This is apparently quite different from the outgoing CEO, whom Mr. Endo refers to as “dictatorial.”
It appears that Honda wants its next leader to be more experienced with different cultures and open to varying opinions. We are excited to see Mr. Hachigo officially take his place in June.