You can picture the scene in the Immelt household. As the CEO of General Electric, Jeff Immelt, slices up the Thanksgiving turkey, older brother Steve lets on that he, too, is to become a chief executive. Jeff gives him an extra slice.
Hogan Lovells partners voted Steve Immelt into the top job in December, so who better to ask for advice than the CEO of the world’s seventh-largest company? The golden nugget of guidance from brother Jeff went like this: boss people around no more than five times a year, but no fewer than three.
“He told me three things,” Immelt tells The Lawyer in an interview today. “Firstly, you have to set out your agenda from the start, there has to be three-to-five items that you’re going to effect. Then three-to-five times a year you have to say, ‘we’re going to do this because I said so’. If you do it more than five times, people won’t listen. If you do it less than three times, people think you’re not paying attention.”
Immelt is taking his younger brother’s messages on board, but so far is keeping schtum about what he’s decided those five things to be. By the way, he’s only got four left, because two weeks ago he decided to scrap Hogan Lovells’ dual management structure and system of co-heads of practice groups. Too many cooks in the kitchen, apparently.
With the firm’s Toronto-based partner meeting just around the corner, attendees should prepare for a bossing. But not too much.
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