Some companies take a cookie-cutter approach to selecting their CEOs. They might favor home-grown talent, for instance, or engineers steeped in the company’s products, or salespeople who excel at spinning a corporate yarn. The next CEO tends to look like the previous CEO, and will be followed by someone cut from the same cloth.
The Ford Motor Co., on the other hand, follows no discernible pattern at all. In the past two decades alone it has toggled from an operations whiz (Jacques Nasser) to a young scion of its founding family (Bill Ford) to an exec who was an automotive neophyte (Alan Mulally) and back again to another true-blue insider (Mark Fields).