Jeff Immelt of GE: Leaders Must Drive Change | Summary and Q&A

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June 3, 2010
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Stanford Graduate School of Business
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Jeff Immelt of GE: Leaders Must Drive Change

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Summary

In this video, the speaker discusses the changing global economy and the attributes of good leaders in this generation. He talks about five big themes that companies need to consider, such as the reordering of the global economy, productivity and cost, resource scarcity, being a networked world, and the intersection of government and business. He also shares his thoughts on leadership and provides ten key points for future leaders to consider, including analytical listening, adaptability and perseverance, managing relationships and connections, simplification and accountability, systems thinking, courage and patience, knowing and understanding how things fail, managing people who are different, being accountable and protecting reputation, and genuinely liking people.

Questions & Answers

Q: How did the speaker manage his career in a big company like GE?

The speaker started with GE in 1982 and focused on getting good at something and being recognized for his skills, such as sales and marketing. He then moved to different roles and tried to gain experience in different areas. He emphasized the importance of building a strong foundation of accomplishment, networking, and understanding the company culture. He recommends not worrying about what your classmates are doing and falling in love with your job.

Q: How did the speaker transition into his role as CEO of GE?

The speaker mentioned that he never thought about his job as following in the footsteps of Jack Welch. He believed that leadership is a one-act play and that change needs to be driven every day without pretending anything was ever wrong. He focused on implementing his own leadership style while keeping the company's values and culture intact.

Q: What are the challenges and opportunities of reverse innovation?

The speaker discussed the concept of reverse innovation, where companies develop technologies and products in developing countries to bring back to the developed world. He explained that companies like GE have research centers in different parts of the world to understand local business models and learn from them. However, he also emphasized the importance of having a diverse technology base and not moving all innovation to one location, as it could be unpopular with customers and the government.

Q: How did the speaker manage relationships and connections in his career?

The speaker talked about the importance of managing relationships and connections, both within and outside of the company. He mentioned the need to understand different perspectives and work collaboratively with others. He also highlighted the significance of treating people with respect and genuinely liking them as a leader.

Q: What are some key attributes of good leaders discussed in the video?

The video mentioned several attributes of good leaders, including analytical listening, adaptability and perseverance, managing relationships and connections, simplification and accountability, systems thinking, courage and patience, knowing and understanding how things fail, managing people who are different, being accountable and protecting reputation, and genuinely liking people.

Takeaways

Leadership has no shelf life, and good leaders need to constantly adapt to the changing world. It is important for leaders to have a point of view of what is happening in the world and invest accordingly. They must also focus on developing deep expertise in a particular area and have a clear understanding of how to manage people who are different from themselves. Simplification, accountability, and systems thinking are crucial for effective leadership. Additionally, leaders need to have the courage and patience to see solutions through, understand how things fail, and be accountable and protective of their reputation. Lastly, a genuine liking for people is an important attribute for successful leaders.

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