New Delhi, Feb 15 (IANS) Highlighting a tenure marked by global crises and rapid globalisation, this is an insightful and important read for anyone looking for advice on how to lead in unprecedented times.
In “HOT SEAT” (Hodder & Stoughton), Jeff Immelt, the former CEO of General Electric shares the hard-won lessons he learned during his 16 years at the helm of one of America’s most iconic companies. Beginning with Immelt’s first Monday on the job — the day before September 11th, 2001 — the book offers a rigorous and candid self-interrogation of Immelt’s tenure, detailing for the first time, his proudest moments, missteps, and the lessons he learned battling one crisis after another as he led GE into the 21st century.
Marked by straight talk and humility, “HOT SEAT” is not a typical business book. As Immelt admits in the prologue: “In October 2017, as I stepped down after thirty-five years at General Electric, I wasn’t sure I could write this book. My sixteen years as CEO had given me a front-row seat to history, and I’d learned some tough lessons I believed others could benefit from. But my tenure ended badly.
“Many business books begin with a tacit promise: ‘Let me tell you how to be like me: an unmitigated success!’ Clearly, I couldn’t say that. My legacy was, at best, controversial. GE won in the marketplace but not in the stock market. I made thousands of decisions impacting millions of people, often in the midst of blinding uncertainty and second-guessed by countless critics. I was proud of my team and what we’d accomplished, but as CEO, I’d been about as brilliant as I was lucky, by which I mean: too often I was neither,” Immelt writes.
As the business world continues to be rocked by stunning economic upheaval and a global pandemic, the likes of which have not been seen in 100 years, “HOT SEAT” is an urgently needed, and unusually candid, guide for decisive leadership. It’s also a must-read playbook on how to lead with integrity in the face of uncertainty.
“No one hands CEOs a playbook on your first day, you simply must figure it out. That takes a lot of love and respect for your people as well as perseverance in the face of second-guessing and withering criticism. I wanted ‘HOT SEAT’ to capture the peaks and valleys of what it is like to be CEO, with the hope that my story can help readers –- and leaders –- in one of the most turbulent times in recent history,” Immelt writes.
Taking over at GE from the legendary Jack Welch, Immelt was arguably one of the first American CEOs to deal with the effects of rapid technical innovation. To capture the era, Immelt’s co-author Amy Wallace interviewed more than 70 colleagues and members of the GE ecosystem. As such, “HOT SEAT” is a review of events from those who lived it.
“We all worked hard to help GE win in turbulent times. Some initiatives worked –- and some didn’t –- but, importantly, leaders can learn from both. In business, as in life, truth equals facts plus context. By sharing the good and the bad, ‘HOT SEAT’ adds to the context of the era,” Immelt writes.
“HOT SEAT” is a refreshing alternative to leadership books that provide checklists or management dictums. It delivers raw and honest reflections from the leader of one of the world’s largest and most important enterprises during unprecedented times.