GE’s Jeff Immelt: “Don’t Confuse Tailwinds With Good Leadership”

May 19, 2017

When Jeff Immelt talks about what makes a great leader, there’s one word he uses again and again. Resilience. He learned that leadership lesson the hard way.

In his first year as CEO of General Electric he had to deal with the September 11th terrorist attacks, then the financial crisis and several global recessions. Speaking with Fortune’s Susie Gharib, he says, “I think the sense of resilience matters most in leadership today. Leaders who are good today, what we admire most is, what do we do when things don’t work.”

Immelt, 61 years old, has worked at the giant industrial company for 35 years and half of them as chief executive. He talks about his long tenure, his proudest achievement, his hardest day, and the best leadership advice he got from Warren Buffett.

Immelt also speaks about CEO succession plans at GE. So far he has shown no interest in retirement. And GE does not have a mandatory retirement age. For now, Immelt says, “We’ve got good leaders on the bench at GE, the ones who are ready to take the company forward. There’s a right time to have this succession take place and we’ll pick that time.”

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