Sometimes I read things that make me shake my head. Sometimes I want to scream, and other times I just stand dumbfounded at the sheer stupidity displayed by some CEO’s.
I remember in 2008 when Bank of America CEO Ken Lewis was giving interviews, and speeches during the financial crisis. He displayed over, and over again sheer arrogance on his summations of why BofA under his leadership was the smartest bank ever known to mankind. Within 12 months he was shown the door with a boot mark clearly visible on the back of his pants. The mess left is still so toxic it might rival the cleanup efforts needed at the crippled nuclear plant in Japan.
General Electric has been a fixture of American business as long as anyone can remember. For much of that time it has been a shining star of American capitalism, and innovation. For many the CEO job at GE was the equivalent if not even more coveted a goal than becoming President of the USA. That is saying something. Period.
One of the reasons why GE enjoys some of the success it has today was because of the leadership, and tutelage of Jack Welch. Mr. Welch was all about business. He had an uncanny ability to move a multi-national conglomerate powerhouse of a company with ideas, and business plans that many were written on the back of a napkin, or a discussed over coffee, and a handshake. He understood how to “cut the crap” out of all the “BS” in most business plans, make people accountable, get it implemented, and if it didn’t work jettison the project, and move on. Mr. Immelt seems more akin to the Ken Lewis model than the Welch model, and here’s why….
Mr. Immelt appears more, and more to want to explain or talk, rather than do, and implement. It was noticed early on however it’s now becoming glaringly apparent that he knew the “politics” on how to get the job. Not the politics of “doing” the job. He’s looking, and talking like a politician more, and more, and more. It must be wonderful to be seen on television laughing with the President, and others on some committee that you are chairing while the ideas you’re coming up with have been dismal failures. Another laugh a minute must be the meetings you’re having in the boardroom on how the shares of GE have just been pummeled since you’ve taken over the helm. Is it not out of a SNL skit that you are just silent when everyone within your seemingly new coveted political protegé’s mouths are calling for what will surely decimate one of GE’s most innovative divisions? (remember GE makes Jet engines) How about defending GE’s reputation against the implied “Tax Scandal?” (insert crickets here) Better yet when you do want to speak you’ll go out and do speeches at venues like the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and tell everyone that they should basically stop complaining about government, and get out and do more business. Hey Mr. Immelt, want to try to start a new GE from the ground up in today’s economic, and regulatory environment? Think you could do it? I’ll put dollars to doughnuts you couldn’t. So please, enough already.
Jack Welch was a true business leader, and has become an icon with his “Straight from the Gut” approach to doing true business. Every time I see or hear anything that comes from Jeffrey Immelt it seems more, and more like ” A Kick to the N_ts” for business. With CEO’s like Mr. Immelt, who needs politicians.
© 2011 Mark St.Cyr All Rights Reserved