‘We Win In Markets, Not Conference Rooms’: GE’s Jeff Immelt

Jeff Immelt, 61, who had served as the Chairman and CEO of the manufacturing giant GE since 2001, handed over the chief executive role to another company veteran John Flannery, but will continue as the Chairman till the end of this year.

‘We Win In Markets, Not Conference Rooms’: GE’s Jeff Immelt

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General Electric’s long-serving chairman and retired CEO Jeffrey Immelt shared his success mantra with the company’s employees on his last day in the office.

“We win in markets, not conference rooms,” the message said. “Winning requires doing and not talking,” Jeff Immelt said in a letter to employees last week, which he also shared on LinkedIn. Encouraging the company’s executives to be more watchful of the clients’ needs, Jeff Immelt wrote: “I truly believe that customers determine our success. Surround yourself with “scouts” who will negotiate for the future. You must listen to them.”

Jeff Immelt, 61, who had served as the Chairman and CEO of the manufacturing giant GE since 2001, handed over the chief executive role to another company veteran John Flannery, but will continue as the Chairman till the end of this year. The arrangement bears a resemblance with the Indian engineering and construction giant Larsen & Toubro, whose long-serving CEO A M Naik recently stepped down as the MD and CEO in June in favour of another company veteran S N Subrahmanyan, but will continue to serve as the Chairman till the end of September.

In his post titled “Things I Learned”, Jeff Immelt shared 10 pearls of wisdom with the employees. Among those, he asked them to not be afraid of investing into the future. “The future comes. Never apologise for investing in it.” Jeff Immelt wrote, adding, “The long term is about more than a series of short terms. It is about ideas.” He said that Industrial Internet and Additive Manufacturing, the relatively newer areas of businesses at the company, would define GE in the future.

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Further, among other pieces of advice, Jeff Immelt suggested to weigh truth telling in proper context, and not to confuse candor with just unloading all that’s on one’s mind. “Keep perception and reality in sync… Facts without context isn’t truth. Sometimes people want to “unload everything on their mind” and call it candor. They feel better, everyone else feels worse,” Jeff Immelt wrote. “Always be transparent, but bring solutions. Remember that facts are a path to progress, not a way to pass judgment. Truth telling requires facts and context,” he added.

Jeff Immelt also emphasized on the virtues of team-building. “Deputize others. Trust your team. We move fastest when teams are purposeful and empowered,” he wrote, adding, “Organization power should be distributed.”

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