This past Monday, I attended the North American International Auto Show press preview in Detroit. Not long ago, my Foolish colleague Alex Scherer and I had the privilege of interviewing Ford (NYSE: F) CEO Alan Mulally over the phone for members of our Stock Advisor service, in which Ford is a recommendation.

As luck would have it, I ran into Mulally and his communications director, Karen Hampton, at the show, and they offered me a chance to follow up on our interview and ask Mulally a couple of questions on the floor of the show.

Despite being pulled in 50 different directions, he was kind enough to take the time to speak with me. After Ford won the 2011 North American Truck of the year award, I wanted to know what kind of priority trucks would hold in Ford's strategy. In addition, the company is making a big bet with the C-MAX vehicle and its "C" segment production platform, in order to maximize production and cost efficiencies. Here's what Mulally had to say on both counts:

Many times, investors can completely overlook management when sizing up a stock. While we may not always be able to interview the CEO, it's still important to know where managers are coming from, and to understand their priorities and knowledge of the business.

I strongly consider management and its priorities when looking for stocks for my Rising Stars portfolio. Swing on by my discussion board, and let's talk about it. You can also follow me on Twitter.

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.