The leaders of Detroit have adapted to a tough situation and won. They are the epitome of the old saying: “a warrior is someone who will fight to the dying end…yet a champion is someone who will adapt to any situation and learn how to win.” It’s even better when you’re recognized for it.
On Thursday, Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr, and General Motors CEO Mary Barra made Fortune magazine’s list of the world’s 50 greatest leaders. What an accomplishment, especially for the first term mayor.
Both Duggan and Orr were honored for the way they brought the city through arguably its toughest time in history and its momentous financial crisis – Chapter 9 bankruptcy – and how the city has responded since then.
“The nation’s largest-ever municipal bankruptcy could have been a disaster. It was anything but,” Fortune said. “Orr aggressively shrank the city’s obligations to bondholders and set the stage for a complete financial overhaul. In his first year in office, Duggan proved a driven and effective manager, installing over 20,000 new streetlights, shortening emergency response times, and balancing the city budget for the first time in over a decade.”
Duggan and Orr will forever be linked together, so it’s only fitting that they came in together at No. 20 on the list. Fortune said they are “transforming business, government, philanthropy, and so much more.”
Of course the mayor was surprised.
“My first reaction was I didn’t realize Fortune even knew who I am,” Duggan said to the Free Press last night. “Obviously I’m honored to be on the same list as the people there. It’s nice to see Detroit leaders recognized, including Mary Barra.”
The real star of this list was Barra, who came in higher on the Fortune list at No. 9. She is being touted for cleverly dealing with: “the demands of investors, regulators, customers, plaintiffs, and employees on one of the business world’s most visible stages” as General Motors managed a watershed moment with the ignition-switch misfortune. They said Barra’s “insistence on greater openness nonetheless broke the long-standing GM pattern of downplaying responses to product defects — and she is making a genuine, if still far from complete, effort to transform the automaker’s sclerotic culture.”
Duggan learned about making the list from his daughter via a text message, he said she said: “If I work hard maybe next year I can catch Taylor Swift.” Swift topped the list at No. 6.
Keep on moving up Mr. Mayor.
Zack Burgess is an award winning journalist. He is the Director/Owner of OFF WOODWARD MEDIA, LLC, where he works as a writer, editor and communications specialist. His work can be seen at zackburgess.com. Twitter: @zackburgess1