Is Korean Shadow Management from the Dark Side (like Darth Vader)?

thekoreansSeems like every time one turns around, there is another firing of CEO of Hyundai Motor America. And the reasons seem to be pretty much the same — except this last time it was for establishing a level of sales success that was not sustainable.

No More Sales Surges: The new guy, Dave Zuchowski, is out to eliminate volatility in sales volume, which the Korean shadow management doesn’t seem to like. Sounds like his challenge is to never attain double-digit sales growth again, but rather just chug along with 3-4% growth every year.

Get Market Share. But: And get 5% market share back, but don’t do anything spectacular unless you can keep doing it year after year. Zuchowski came up from the sales side so he better watch it – or he will be sent away like the guy before him, the very capable John Krafcik, CEO for the last 5 years.

Dealers Always Want More: In spite of all almost unbelievable sales and market growth, now Hyundai dealers have the new Sonata and Genesis but they keep complaining about competition and slow product launch cadence. It seems it never enough and they seem to have forgotten when Hyundai quality and service was near toiletry.

NFL Coach Job Security: Being CEO of Hyundai is like being an NFL coach.  You win and get to or near the Super Bowl, you get to keep your job.  You win 5 years in a row and then have slump season, you are history.  Wonder if it is like that in the secret halls of Hyundai in South Korea?

Who are these guys from Seoul anyway? Is it time to see some transparency about what goes on in that big blue building in Costa Mesa and the hallowed hall of tough love in South Korea. Even the PR team seems reluctant to talk to media about anything other than metal. And they seem to definitely avoid putting their executives from either continent on camera.

Signs of Light: We do at least know the name of the President & CEO of Hyundai Manufacturing and the Kia management at the top is listed in the comprehensive roster of OEMs published every year by Automotive News.

Out of the Shadows: The days of shadow management and the big power in some other country seem to be outmoded, unnecessary, and even insulting, in a way, to the experienced, schooled management teams recruited from Detroit. The relationship with all those car guys who migrated from Detroit to Hyundai Motor and the Korean management group seems almost like parent-child. Combine that with the “dark side” of their management style and communications strategy (lack of) and you derive an image that is filled with insecurity, lack of confidence, and uncertainty.  Even Darth Vader has a good side and we all come to like, appreciate, and see some light in his darkness.

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