2014 Global Leadership Summit Session 2b: Jeffrey Immelt #GLS14


President and CEO, GE

SESSION 2: Positioning Your Organization for the Future

  • Chairman of General Electric, a post he has held since September 7, 2001
  • Named one of the “World’s Best CEOs” three times by Barrons
  • Under his leadership, GE has been named “America’s Most Admired Company” in polls conducted byBarrons and the Financial Times
  • Served as Chair of President Obama’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness
  • Immelt holds a B.S. in Applied Mathematics from Dartmouth College and an MBA from Harvard University

Session Notes

  • Hierarchy doesn’t mean much… we all work together as a team.
  • There has never been a moment where any job in the company has been beneath me.
  • When did you know you were a gifted leader?
    • Great parents… opportunities to lead early through athletics
    • Parents taught me not to be afraid
  • Did you have a plan when you first joined to GE to differentiate yourself?
    • It was always about the work and not about the career
    • Your piers ultimately decide how far you go. If you’re more of a giver than a taker, your piers see that… horizontal strength in the organization.
  • Jack Welch once assigned him to turnaround a failing appliance division…
    • Be around a crisis early in your career.
    • We can’t tell anything about your leadership when times are good but we see a lot when times are tough.
    • Setting high standards is important
  • Became CEO on Friday Sept 7, 2001
    • End of an era of stability
    • We live in a volatile time. People aren’t going to be given the luxury to go back in time. The best leaders see the world as it is and go forward.
    • The best leaders don’t long for the past but see the world as it is and go forward.
  • Why do you invest so much in the GE leadership training center?
    • We spend $1b/yr on leadership development
    • Some aspects of leadership never change, but many aspects do change…
    • Continuously learning from other leaders and companies.
    • GE leadership training solidifies the company culture
  • How do you feel when someone you’ve trained leaves?
    • It’s deeply personal.
    • I don’t want people to come to work at GE because they’re afraid they can’t get another job but because they love what they do and want to make a difference.
    • We want people to live their dreams even if it’s working somewhere else.
  • What are the X-factors when you look for leaders.
    • The willingness to stand apart, to buck the system
    • We want people who will challenge authority & status quo
    • Excuses turn everyone off
    • We don’t expect people to be perfect but to learn from mistakes and get better.
    • Excuses indicate you’re not willing to learn from mistakes.
  • Hardest person you ever had to fire
    • Person who was not connecting with his team.
  • Where did the value of diversity originate? How do you foster diversity?
    • If you believe in talent and meritocracy, you must believe in diversity.
    • The best people and ideas must get ahead.
    • Old white guys don’t have all the great ideas.
  • Why did you decide to help President Obama with job creation?
    • The 24 of us who did this because we wanted to help (not for political reasons)
    • Almost 70% of our business outside the U.S. but we’re proud to be an American company.
  • Explain simplification
    • We live in a complicated world, and we’re all looking for better ways to do things.
    • 4 ideas…
      • Less management – fewer meetings, people closer to the markets they serve
      • Become hyper competitive
      • Start today – test & learn
      • Use IT to network the company – empower people with information
  • Works 80 hours a week 7 only takes 12 days off a year
    • I love what I do
    • We can’t guarantee outcomes, but we can guarantee processes.
    • We’re going to work hard on your behalf and play to win.
  • What would you hope to experience in a church
    • In big leadership jobs, you’re on all the time…
    • Leadership is an intense journey into yourself… resiliancy
    • The ability to sit for an hour and be at peace… listen to someone else talk.


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