Lee Iacocca – The CEO whose Leadership style remains Unchallenged

Lee Iacocca is a famous American automobile executive and entrepreneur and author. He was the former chairman and president of the Chrysler Corporation and the Ford Motor Company respectively. He worked as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Chrysler Corporation from 1978 till 1992.

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Iococca was titled as the 18th greatest Chief Executive Officer in America by the Portfolio. Apart from all of it, he was also the United States Business exports advocate during the late 1980s. He has written a number of books based on the leadership qualities and even an autobiography of his own.

Early life and education

Lee Iococca was born on October 15, 1924 in Allentown, Pennsylvania to Nicola Iococca and Antonietta Perrotta. His parents were Italian immigrants who moved to Pennsylvania and owned a small restaurant named Yocco’s Hot Dogs. It was reported that he was christened with the name “Lido” after he was conceived during his parent’s honeymoon in Lido although Iococca has refused these speculations in his autobiography.

Iococca did his schooling from the Allentown High School and graduated in the year 1942. He later enrolled himself in the Lehigh University which is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. He graduated with a bachelor degree in Industrial engineering.

Following his graduation from the Lehigh University, Iococca won the prestigious Wallace Memorial fellowship and then enrolled himself in the Princeton University. He did his further studies in politics and plastics.

Wife/s and children

  • Iococca’s first marriage was to Mary McCleary on September 26, 1956. The couple had two children together, Kathryn and Lia. Mary died in the year 1983 following her poor health due to diabetes. Iococca fought for several people as an advocate who had the issues with not receiving proper treatment prior to and after his wife’s death.
  • Iococca married a second time on April 17, 1986 to Peggy Johnson but soon a year later got their marriage annulled.
  • He married Darrien Earle in the year 1991, following his separation with Peggy. They finalised their divorce three years later.


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After graduating from the Princeton University, Iococca joined the Ford as an engineer in August 1946. He persuaded his seniors to move him to the sales and marketing section because he believed he would flourish more in that sector. He soon gained a national recognition after launching the “56 for 56” campaign in which he started offering loans to interested buyers with a specific down payment and a monthly amount of $56 every month.

He worked his way up through the company and was soon promoted to being the vice president and the general manager of the Ford. He even was part of designing several designs for the automobiles at Ford, some of which include the Ford Mustang and the Ford Escort.

Iococca was courted to join the Chrysler Corporation when it was on the verge of bankruptcy. He started working to pick the company back and did his very best to make it profitable again.

Apart from all of this, Iococca has been author and co-author to a number of books, Where have all the leaders gone? and Iococca: An Autobiography being the most popular ones.

Lee Iacocca – Leadership Style

In his book, “Where have all the Leaders Gone’, he talks at length on leadership, especially when choosing a presidential candidate. He stated that leaders need to have these common characteristics, the 9Cs – curiosity, creativity, character, communication, conviction, competence, courage, charisma and common sense.

Lee Iacocca – Net Worth and Salary

Lee Iococca has an estimated net worth of $100 million. The man responsible for making a brand out of Ford and giving a fresh lease of life to Chrysler, was one of the first CEOs to bring his salary to $1, when he was put in charge of reviving the debt  laden Chrysler, in the 70s. He is still the member of $1 salary, along with people like Elon Musk, Larry Page, Donald Trump and many more.

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