Mary Barra exemplifies power with grace from my vantage point. She is on my list of people I’d love to have coffee and chat!

Today was close, I had a 60 second exchange with her prior to her speaking at the Economic Club in Indy. She is my version of a hero. Our professional lives began very similar (although, mine a decade earlier) both of us engineers co-oping through school with Divisions of GM.   She now leads General Motors.

Power with grace…yes.

She was advising high school students in the hallway about their college applications prior to her speech.

She asked me about me in our short exchange.

In her conversational style talk, she emphasized the importance of developing leaders and teams. She mentioned GM works with three values:

She referred back to those values as she talked about the innovations they are exploring. Also, to the relationships they have within the company, with the unions, and with their communities.

I was struck how innovation applies to more than their products, to include their people needs. How they are working to retrain current employees for new positions as they partner with community colleges. How they are bringing people (many women) back into the workforce who’ve taken a break and want to re-start their careers.

How a “dumb list” has helped improve processes; inspired by millennials asking, “Why are we doing this ‘dumb’ thing?” Recognizing what made sense a year ago, five years, or 20 years ago doesn’t necessarily make sense now.

Yes, power with grace.

Listening to Mary today caused me to feel inspired and relieved.   Several times during her brief comments she referred to making decisions that are good for the environment because that is ‘the right thing to do’.

She mentioned 80% of car buying decisions are made by women. Therefore working toward is a similar balance of women in leadership at GM makes sense.

I applaud Mary Barra for her leadership with GM and what she is creating through a collaborative innovative organization.  It works.  Look at the results she has achieved leading a huge company through very difficult times.  

It was a nostalgic day for me! Yes, living power with grace!

I also thank her for taking time to come and share with us here in Indy!