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Publisher's Summary

"Most successful leaders are mentally and emotionally askew. There’s a good side, which gets the job done. There’s often also a downside that makes them hard to understand or difficult to work for. It’s precisely that they are impatient, stubborn, opinionated, unsatisfied, and domineering that makes them successful."

When Bob Lutz retired from General Motors in 2010, after an unparalleled 47-year career in the auto industry, he was one of the most respected leaders in American business. He had survived all kinds of managers over those decades: tough and timid, analytical and irrational, charismatic and antisocial, and some who seemed to shift frequently among all those traits. His experiences made him an expert on leadership, every bit as much as he was an expert on cars and trucks.

Now Lutz is revealing the leaders - good, bad, and ugly - who made the strongest impression on him throughout his career. Icons and Idiots is a collection of shocking and often hilarious true stories and the lessons Lutz drew from them. From enduring the sadism of a Marine Corps drill instructor, to working with a washed-up alcoholic, to taking over the reins from a convicted felon, he reflects on the complexities of all-too-human leaders. No textbook or business school course can fully capture their idiosyncrasies, foibles and weaknesses - which can make or break companies in the real world.

Lutz shows that we can learn just as much from the most stubborn, stupid, and corrupt leaders as we can from the inspiring geniuses. He offers fascinating profiles of icons and idiots such as...

  • Eberhard von Kuenheim. The famed CEO of BMW was an aristocrat-cum-street fighter who ruled with secrecy, fear, and deft maneuvering.
  • Harold A. "Red" Poling: A Ford CEO and the ultimate bean counter. If it couldn’t be quantified, he didn’t want to know about it.
  • Lee Iacocca: The legendary Chrysler CEO appeared to be brillant and bold, but was often vulnerable and insecure behind the scenes.
  • G. Richard "Rick" Wagoner: The perfect peacetime CEO whose superior intelligence couldn’t save GM from steep decline and a government bailout.

As Lutz writes: "We’ll examine bosses who were profane, insensitive, totally politically incorrect, and who 'appropriated' insignificant items from hotels or the company. We’ll visit the mind of a leader who did little but sit in his office. We’ll look at another boss who could analyze a highly complex profit-and-loss statement or a balance sheet at a glance, yet who, at times, failed to grasp the simplest financial mechanisms - how things actually worked in practice to create the numbers in the real world."

The result is a powerful and entertaining guide for any aspiring leader.

©2013 Bob Lutz (P)2013 Gildan Media LLC

What listeners say about Icons and Idiots

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Flew By

Absolutely loved this book. I knew abit about automotive history, but to here the behind the scenes details on what was going on and why those decisions were made was fantastic. Bob is a well rounded guy and captures the key managing aspects that made leaders he worked under, tick. Really hope Bob does some more books

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Best business book so far by far

Delayed my purchase repeatedly. Why? Because I expected it to be tedious and dry, per my experience with previous reads in this genre (Lee Iacocca’s Autobiography being a rare exception - although this book provides a 2nd, intriguing perspective on the legend himself). So riveting, I finished it in 3-days. Should be required reading for aspiring managers. No nonsense / common sense doctrine based on extensive direct experience with a wide spectrum of Mr. Lutz’ “superiors”. With a welcome seasoning of anecdotes to sate the need for salacious gossip. Great narration to boot. This would be the book to leave on your boss’s desk, Assuming your boss is self aware and open to new perspectives. On second thought, don’t waste your money. He or she would probably use it to raise the height of their monitor while having the binding face outward to impress visitors on their reading prowess. Highly recommend.

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Fantastic!

Wonderful insight from a wise man with incredible life experience. An unfiltered view of some of the top business leaders in my lifetime.

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eye opening

I think this book is great for anyone that wants to aspire to be a leader. I learned new techniques to lead.

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Very interesting look at leadership

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book.

What did you like best about this story?

It was no holds barred look at different leadership styles