Leadership Notes from a “Good to Great” Company

by Michael Haberman on January 24, 2008 · 0 comments


I had the opportunity to hear John G. Rice, Vice Chairman of GE, speak on leadership. GE is one of the companies Jim Collins wrote about in Good to Great”. In fact Rice’s introducer said it is the only remaining company written about that continues to excel.

Rice talked about GE in general, his schedule as Vice Chairman, and about some of his leadership principles. At 51 years of age he is bright, energetic and has an incredible schedule that takes him around the globe meeting with “movers and shakers.” Some of the points on leadership include:

  • Teamplaying is a leadership skill.
  • Leaders have to be flexible and adaptable. He does not expect his employees to work his schedule of time, he does expect them to produce the results he desires.
  • A leader has to be “inclusive.” If you can’t handle diversity you will not be an effective leader.
  • Leaders provide consistent and constructive feedback. No suprises at review time.

As he was talking about people he used a phrase that caught my ear. He referred to people’s “strengths and development needs” instead of “strengths and weaknesses.” That was pretty revealing of his people philosophy.

I know alot has been written about GE, both good and bad, but if Rice is an example of what kind of leader develops within that system then perhaps we should all pay a great deal more attention. I think I will be doing some more reading on GE. Anyone one have any suggestions?

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Wally Bock January 24, 2008 at 1:50 pm

I’ve bumped up against many managers from GE in the last couple of decades. I don’t know Mr. Rice, but the people I’ve met would merit the same comment you made of him, “if he’s an example then we should pay more attention.” It’s also worth noting that GE has been doing this for a very long time, with over a hundred years of CEOs promoted from inside. That’s why I think the really interesting thing about the company is the number of quality managers who stay there for a career.

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