Jeff Immelt, chairman and CEO of GE, gave the first annual Roanak Desai Memorial View From The Top at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. He discussed how business has changed in his nearly three decades at GE and stressed to the student audience to be prepared for a turbulent business world.There are four broad categories of leadership, that I have drawn on as a framework for weighing competencies: Thought, People, Results and Personal. Different companies and consultancies deploy various competencies, but I have found these categories to be enduring ones and applicable across contexts.
- Thought Leadership is about how much and how well one knows such areas as strategy, finance and technology. In particular, too, it has to do with critical thinking, that is, grasping new, complex information, solving problems effectively, and making sound judgments and decisions.
- People Leadership is about the constellation of working with others and leading them effectively: from engaging and motivating, to building relationships, resolving conflict, and coaching and developing.
- Results Leadership is of course about driving oneself and others to achieve and executing not for the sake of executing but for the purpose of hitting targets, fulfilling priorities, and reaching aims.
- Personal Leadership is about how one manages oneself to take on the exciting but complex responsibilities of leadership: adapting oneself as necessary, holding to ethics of conduct, managing stress and leading under pressure, challenges and ambiguity.
Interestingly, the 10 competencies that Immelt emphasizes for his leaders at GE are evenly divided among these four categories.
- Listening analytically
- Thinking systemically
- Understanding how things work
- Managing relationships, forging partnerships
- Managing diverse people
- Actually liking people
- Simplifying everything
- Holding oneself accountable
- Adapting and persevering, dealing with volatility
- Being courageous and seeing solutions through
Both these GE competencies and the four categories are simply frames of reference. You as CEO must (a) weigh the fundamental purpose of your leadership vis-a-vis your company or organization, (b) acknowledge the context or landscape that you're in, and (c) decide what you and your leadership staff must be able to do effectively. More than likely, then, you adopt some of these competencies, and discard others, and perhaps draw on these categories or create your own unique set. The end in mind is serving that fundamental purpose.
Thank you for reading, and let me know what you think!
Ron Villejo, PhD