The Leadership Development GE-Style case study offers a glimpse in to the management and leadership training provided by General Electric to its seasoned executives (Kreitner, 2008). The history of General Electric dates back to the days of Thomas Edison, with the formal company forming in 1892 (GE, 2010). General Electric is a successful company, which spans a history of over a century of time. They have grown from a company primarily concerned with electricity to one that competes globally in diversified markets such as finance, television production, aircraft engines, medical imaging, and power generation (GE, 2010). In addition, they employ roughly 300,000 people in over 100 countries (GE, 2010).
Accomplishing such success requires a diverse management team knowledgeable in the different aspects of their product and production lines. The John F. Welch Leadership Center at Crotonville provides General Electric the avenue for grooming its managers to meet the changing goals of the company. Whether GE’s approach to teaching leadership, as described in this case study, is effective or not is truly dependent upon application. If the application applies internally, within the GE organization, GE runs a very successful leadership-training program. However, whether the same training practices are successful outside GE’s application seems to be a topic of controversy. What works for one may not work for all.
First, let us look at GE from an internal perspective. In the article, Bob Corcoran: The Power of GE Education, Corcoran is quoted as saying, “The DNA of any organization rests with its leadership and talent pipeline, and what better way to strengthen how we operate and work in the world as a responsible corporate citizen than through the way we develop our people (Soshe, 2004 p 35)?” This philosophy is evident throughout the case study. The company provides a training venue with its people in mind, where status is secondary to learning. GE obviously grooms their people to meet their own internal expectations and provides real GE problems to solve. Magnifying this point further is that only one-third of all lecturers come from external sources (Kreitner, 2008). In addition, after each course, the teams are required to report their findings back to the company CEO (Kreitner, 2008). Taking all of this into consideration, I think GE provides its executives with a good mix of management theory, research, and hands on experience to make the manager training programs successful internally for General Electric.
Conversely, can GE’s manager-training courses span to external applications? The jury may still be out regarding this question. Embedded very deeply in their training programs is GE’s corporate philosophy and culture that applying the skills learned at Crotonville to other environments may be difficult. In a 2005 Fortune magazine article, the magazine found an even split down the middle when it compared the performance...