2008年4月29日 星期二

For Ex-CEO, Best Role Is Modest One

值得提醒大家的是,過去大家盲目崇拜Jack或GE是值得反省的。我摘取一段他退休時一位著名教授的說法(《從優良公司躍升了不起公司》(Good to Great,

或譯 {從A到A+})提出所謂「第五層次的領導人」,他或她基本上有專業的技能又兼備人格上的謙謙君子(雄心,關心公司成敗第一優先,而非個人財富原發表在BusinessWeek 2002年九月某期)):

問:傑克.威爾許(Jack Welch)是第五層次(水準)的領導人嗎?


簡介Lean /Six Sigma 運動(1979-2007)

鍾漢清 (Hanching Chung)*

For Ex-CEO, Even Welch, Best Role Is Modest One

Over the years, Jack Welch has guided the thinking of American business on lots of issues. When it comes to the right role for retired chief executives, however, the former General Electric CEO might do better by sitting still and listening to his peers.

The 72-year-old Mr. Welch appeared on CNBC last Wednesday to blast GE's current boss, Jeff Immelt, for poor quarterly results. If that happens again, Mr. Welch said, 'I'd get a gun out and shoot him.'

The next day, Mr. Welch recanted, praising Mr. Immelt effusively and declaring: 'Nothing is as disgusting to me as some old CEO chirping away about how things are not as good under the new guy as they were under him.'

In his rush to make amends, Mr. Welch changed so abruptly from Indignant Jack to Chastened Jack that he skipped over the middle ground for a former corporate chieftain -- a modest, constructive role behind the scenes.

That's a shame, say three well-known former bosses: Intel Corp.'s Andy Grove; Medtronic Inc.'s William George and Continental Airlines' Gordon Bethune. They don't provide on-air critiques of their successors. But in private, they offer occasional advice or at least a sympathetic ear. Done properly, they say, such counsel can be helpful.

Ex-CEOs can be most useful on judgment calls such as when to settle a lawsuit or how to negotiate with regulators, says Mr. George. Such management challenges are so nuanced that no one can master them entirely on the first few tries. Old-timers -- who have dealt with many such situations -- may be able to ask a probing question or suggest an unanticipated alternative. By contrast, Mr. George says, former executives' expertise decays rapidly when it comes to sizing up financial results. In those areas, he says, active managers are the only ones who know enough to make the call.

At Intel, Mr. Grove, who retired as CEO in 1998 and stepped down as chairman in 2004, says he likes to help talented, younger people sort out career questions. He shies away, however, from opining on technical aspects of the chip company's business. 'I was an obsolete technologist when I retired,' Mr. Grove says. 'Now I'm an obsolete, out-of-date technologist.'

Keeping any advice private is essential, Mr. Grove says. 'There's a Hippocratic oath at work here,' he says. 'First do no harm.' Retired CEOs' comments, if made public, can take on meanings beyond what's constructive, he observes.

Mr. Grove says he also has learned to weigh in only if asked. 'If you're proud of your insight, it's hard to accept signals that your input isn't wanted,' he says. 'But after all the goodbye parties are done, you have to realize that even if they put your statue in front of the building, you're no longer in charge.'

In the past year, a handful of company pioneers have come roaring back as CEOs once more after having kicked themselves upstairs into chairman-only jobs for a period. These include Michael Dell at computer maker Dell Inc. and Howard Schultz at coffee-bar operator Starbucks Corp.

In those cases, business performance had stumbled under the early CEOs' successors. That prompted the companies' original leaders -- also sizable shareholders in their own right -- to reclaim the reins.

It's much rarer, though, for CEOs hired later in the game to come back for a second act. Louis V. Gerstner, the former chief executive of International Business Machines Corp., defined retirement for such bosses, including himself, in his final shareholders letter, in IBM's 2001 annual report.

'A decade or so is long enough to be the leader of a large complex company like IBM,' Mr. Gerstner wrote. He wished his successor, Sam Palmisano, well and predicted that at some point, IBM would face a major shift in its market. 'When it comes, I hope he throws out everything that Gerstner ever did . . . . My time as IBM's leader is over.'

Strikingly, Mr. Welch until last week was viewed as a model of how to let go. He remained in the public eye, appearing regularly on CNBC and in print with business advice and commentary. But he generally shied away from talking about GE in detail, except to affirm support for Mr. Immelt, whom he had helped pick in 2000 as his successor.

Mr. Welch, in an email exchange, declined to add to his comments last week. But Mr. Bethune, the former Continental Air boss, says he and Mr. Welch both do their share of live television. And in such settings, Mr. Bethune says, even executives who think they are media-savvy can get swept up in the moment.

'You start thinking that you're sitting in your living room, shooting the breeze,' Mr. Bethune says. 'And you're not.'

George anders

前任高管 低調為上

年 來﹐傑克•韋爾奇(Jack Welch)一直引領著美國商界人士在許多問題上的所思所想﹔不過﹐在退休高管應該扮演怎樣的角色這一問題上﹐倘若這位通用電氣公司(General Electric Co.)前首席執行長能安靜地坐好、聽聽同道中人的想法﹐那麼他可能會做得更加出色。

在上週三CNBC電視頻道的一檔節目中﹐現年72歲的韋爾奇因通用電氣業績不佳而向現任首席執行長伊梅爾特(Jeff Immelt)開了炮。韋爾奇說﹐如果這種事再發生﹐我就掏出把槍來崩了他。



在 三位同樣大名鼎鼎的前CEO──英特爾(Intel Corp.)的安迪•格魯夫(Andy Grove)、美敦力公司(Medtronic Inc.)的威廉•喬治(William George)以及大陸航空公司(Continental Airlines Inc.)的戈登•貝脩恩(Gordon Bethune)看來﹐那樣做是很丟人的。他們從不公開批評自己的繼任者﹐但私下裡卻偶爾會給予建議﹐或至少願意懷著顆同情心聆聽新人訴說。他們認為﹐如 果拿捏得當﹐自己的建議是會對繼任者有所幫助的。

喬 治表示﹐在評判應在何時了結一樁訴訟、如何與監管機構協商等重大決策方面﹐前CEO的建議幫助最大。此時管理層所面臨的問題是如此微妙而棘手﹐以致於沒有 人在不經過幾次歷練的情況下就能一切盡在掌控。而此時那些早已身經百戰的“過來人”或許能夠提出一個一針見血的問題﹐或給出一個從前沒人想到的替代方案。 喬治指出﹐與這點正好形成鮮明對比的是﹐前任CEO對業績的評估能力往往會飛快退化﹐在這些領域中﹐現任領導是唯一知道該做何決策的人。

1998 年從英特爾CEO位子上退休、而後在2004年時離任董事長之職的格魯夫表示﹐他願意幫助有才華的年輕人解決他們職業生涯中的問題。不過他卻怎麼都不肯就 這家晶片巨頭的技術發展前景發表看法。格魯夫說﹐我退休時就是個老派的技術員了﹐現在嘛﹐我不僅老派、還徹底過時了。



去年有不少前CEO們在擔任了一段時間董事長之後又捲土重來、再掌帥印。其中包括戴爾公司(Dell Inc.)的邁克爾•戴爾(Michael Dell)和星巴克(Starbucks Corp.)的霍華德•舒爾茨(Howard Schultz)。


不過﹐對於那些受聘而來的職業CEO來而言﹐再次返場的情況就非常少見了。國際商業機器公司(IBM)的前CEO郭士納(Louis V. Gerstner)在他最後一封致股東的信中這樣描述了他這類老板們的退休生活。

郭 士納在這封附於IBM 2001年年報中的信件裡表示﹐在IBM這樣龐大而高度綜合性的公司當上10年CEO已經足夠長了。他祝福自己的繼任者塞繆爾•帕爾米薩諾(Sam Palmisano)能夠工作順利﹐並預言IBM未來某個時候會面臨市場環境的重大轉變。他表示﹕“當轉變來臨時﹐希望帕爾米薩諾能拋開我所做過的一切﹐ 我作為IBM領導人的時代已經一去不復返了。”




George anders