Interview with GE’s Jeff Immelt: 5 ways leaders develop authentic teams

Jeff Immelt telling a story at GE’s studio

“Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.” — Oscar Wilde

People around the world are asking their leaders the same question: Are you telling us the truth?

1. You talk to your people openly about challenges.

“I’ve done this for 14 years. For anyone who thinks it’s easy, these are hard jobs. But you also have this sense that no matter what happens we can get better.”

2. Customers may fade away. But you’ve learned markets are forever.

“I had this feeling we were still constructed for an American-centric economy and I realized we had to get more global.”

3. You can’t ignore competition, so let it inspire.

“We don’t want to be Microsoft or Google, but we’re inspired to be better because of them.”

4. You start with the idea that peak performance is unattainable without diversity.

“If you can bring it, if you’ve got merit, if you’re winning, you’re going to get promoted.

5. You admit these are hard times, and then you’re thankful.

“There’s no doubt in my mind, when I talk to other leaders, you haven’t led until you’ve been through a ‘flying close to the sun’ tail risk.

Professor of Leadership. Extraordinary Lives Project. Author “Be Somebody” (2021); 2019 Telly Award; ex-publisher Forbes