When it comes time for a business leader to make a tough judgment call, it's helpful to have the consensus support of aides and top managers--but it's not essential. As Jeffrey Immelt learned just three years into his tenure as chief executive of General Electric, sometimes the boss has to make unpopular decisions and expect his team to get in line.
During an annual strategic review meeting in 2004, the CEO was surprised to learn how many business units of GE were pursuing environmental initiatives independent of one another. It occurred to Immelt that all of these initiatives could be rolled up into a program of green practices and technologies and pushed more aggressively. They also could be made more effective if they had a common platform for communicating with one another, setting goals and measuring performance against one another, and presenting a more unified marketing message to customers.
In December, 2004, Immelt put his plan to a vote with the top 35 executives in the company. The result: The strategy was shot down dead. "They resoundingly voted no," he recalls. "They said, 'This is stupid.'"
That was then; this is now.
Source: Business Week, http://www.businessweek.com
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