When Sergio Marchionne first arrived at Fiat in 2004, he did a very interesting thing. He was an outsider to not only Fiat but also to the giant and deeply complicated motor industry, and he didn't pretend to know all the answers to Fiat’s myriad problems.

So he did that rare thing for a CEO: asked people what they thought. In his first weeks at Fiat’s monolithic headquarters in Turin, he paid unannounced visits to even quite junior managers throughout the building. Dressed in his trademark pullover, he would take a seat and ask the presumably startled employee what they were working on. From this, he gauged all the interesting projects the company had in the works.

He also, of course, got to assess the people. It quickly became clear who still had fire in their belly and who had been beaten down by years of decline and mismanagement and were now going through the motions.