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We Ask Carlos Ghosn of Nissan & Renault: How Do You Run Three Companies and Stay Human?


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Carlos Ghosn is the CEO and Chairman of Nissan and Renault, and the Chairman of Russia's AvtoVAZ. How does he do it?

He gives us the inside scoop in this interview with LinkedIn Executive Editor Daniel Roth.

Some of our favorite excerpts:

On managing so many people and companies—
It requires a lot of pragmatism, a lot of organization. You have to be surrounded by very professional people who are going to help you do the job. You need to make sure are limiting yourself to the core of your mission. I mean, you cannot do everything. You need to make sure about where you are, where you think you are indispensable, and dedicate your task to that.

And then you start to allocate time in the most rational way possible between the different companies. Obviously, I start with the principle that when I'm in Japan, I'm making decisions for Nissan. When I'm in Paris, I'm making decisions for Renault. And when I am in Russia, I'm making decisions for AvtoVAZ.

I don't sit down in Paris and make decisions for things related to Nissan. I don't mix the different responsibilities because I just want to make sure the different teams in charge feel responsible and there is no confusion between the different companies. So, a lot of pragmatism, some basic rules, professional people around you and at the end of the day, it's possible.

How to manage international teams—
One basic rule is to give as much visibility as possible. For example, my agenda now is clear up to the end of 2015. That means, I know exactly where I'm gonna be and what I'm gonna be doing for the next 15 months. It's not only for me, it's mainly for the people working for me. They know when I'm gonna be in Tokyo, when I'm gonna be in Paris, when I'm gonna be New York, so they can organize themselves around this.

This being said, we're in a business, so you need to be flexible. There are exceptions and people around you are here to make sure that they're dealing with exceptions.

It's very taxing physically, because you're moving all the time. You have to deal with jet lag and you're down off the plane, people don't care about the jet lag. They have their CEO in front of them. They ask questions. They're expecting you to be fit -- lucid, awake and knowledgeable about everything. So, you need to make sure that you're resting in the plane when you're traveling. And then, when you get down off the plane, you're ready to go. All of this requires a lot of discipline. In a certain way, you have to live like a monk.

Published in: Leadership & Management