While GM and Chrysler struggle to succeed despite $17 billion in government bailouts, Ford stands out for building success without putting its hand out. Ford claims it started this process by recognizing the industry problems back in 2006 and acting before the crisis.
In 2006, then-CEO William Clay Ford, Jr. recognized his inability to restructure the struggling business. He took the bold act of replacing himself. He brought in Alan Mulally, who had succeeded in restructuring Boeing through its troubles. I imagine that board members "helped" William Ford with his decision, but Ford was able to act on it where other CEOs fight to the death of their companies.
I'm a strong believer in the value of leaders presenting simple messages to their teams. One of the turnaround techniques that Ford is now using is to spread its simple message in a plastic card that employees carry with their badges.
Many people find such things to be silly management techniques. I see them as powerful leadership tools for focusing the team on a simple goal. In each employee that mocks such efforts, you will find an employee who understands the message on the card. They play another valuable role in solidifying the message: They are the first to call out their leaders when they don't act toward the stated goals. Even such mocking acts can serve the goal by acting as a conscience to keep the leaders on track.
As a leader, you could take your first lesson from Ford by having a simple goal for your teams. Your second lesson from Ford is to not be shy about sharing it until your team thinks you are being silly. Here's wishing success to Ford.