Gary Convis is willing to roll up his sleeves and get dirty, and he listens closely and collaborates with people at all levels. The retired chairman of Toyota Motor Manufacturing, Kentucky is joining Toledo, Ohio-based Dana Holding Corporation, as its CEO.
When I was researching The Culture of Collaboration book, Convis was generous with his time and provided tremendous insight into how collaboration creates value for Toyota. Published reports have focused on Convis’ knowledge of lean manufacturing techniques, but he will likely engage Dana team members in every function, region and level to adopt a more collaborative culture.
Convis speaks softly and exudes confidence, but without a trace of egotism. At Toyota, he expected aspiring leaders to spend time on the assembly line. “When you put in days of working on the line with your own hands building a car, what the team member does every day, that means you really connect with that team member and you have respect for what they do,” Convis told me.
As a collaborative leader, Convis seeks broad input into decisions and expects people to contribute regardless of role or title. He also believes strongly in mentoring, and will guide protégés to adopt more collaborative approaches to leadership. Shoot-from-the-hip managers, information hoarders, and people used to star status will likely need to adapt.
Dana and Convis share some values. The “Dana style” of management emphasizes idea generation from everybody and “cooperation among Dana people globally.” However, Convis will likely work across business units and functions to help nourish seeds of collaboration.
Dana’s values, as described on the company’s web site, include employing, developing and promoting “the very best people based on personal performance and skills.” With Convis at the helm, Dana may change this statement to “the very best people based on collaborative performance and skills.”