In an interview underlining the gravity of the crisis facing Ford Motor Company, CEO and Chairman Bill Ford has said that he is prepared to bring in top talent to any position in the company, even if it means replacing himself.

Ford CEO Bill Ford Jr. tells Detroit Bureau Chief Keith Naughton he is fully aware that Ford is a company in crisis. “We understand we’re in trouble in North America,” he tells Naughton in the September 11 issue of Newsweek (on newsstands Monday, September 4). “We understand that it requires extraordinary
action and we are taking that.”

Part of Ford’s extraordinary action involves recruiting strong leadership- even if it means replacing himself, he tells Naughton.

“I’m always looking to bring talent into this company. If I can find somebody … I’ll go get him. That is regardless of the position.”

He also states: “You know, look, I’ve always said that titles are not important to me. This company has been part of my life since the day I was born and will be until the day I die. What’s important is getting this company headed in the right direction.”

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Furthermore, Ford denies that ex-Treasury secretary Bob Rubin left the company’s board of directors because he did not support the company’s direction: ” … His [resignation] letter was very clear on that. He said, I think Ford and you are doing all the right things. Bob was very supportive and was a great director.”

Ford also describes the morale at Ford. “There’s a lot of anxiety, and understandably so, until we let everyone know what the game plan is and where they fit into it. I also think, though, there’s a tremendous sense of resolve. For any employee who has been here 20 years, this is not uncharted waters. It’s a battle-tested employee group.”

Ford told the September 11 issue of Newsweek in an interview posted on the magazine’s Web site: “I’m always looking to bring talent into this company. If I can find somebody — I thought Carlos (Ghost) was an exceptionally talented executive who could help the company — I’ll go get him. That is regardless of the position.”

Asked if that applied to his own job as well, Ford replied: “Absolutely.”

Ford was referring to past efforts to lure Ghost, who is chief executive of alliance partners Renault of France and Nissan, to work for Ford.