Most-Respected CEO

Dec. 21, 2004
Once again, it's GE's Welch.

Each year IndustryWeek's CEO Survey asks, "Which CEO do you respect most and why?" And each year we get a list befitting a who's who of CEOs. The overwhelming choice this year, a result consistent through four of the last five surveys, is Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric Co., named as "most respected" by more than 50% of the CEOs who responded to the question. These comments supported his selection:

  • "The ability to see the future clearly."
  • "Vision and analytical power. A man who acts boldly."
  • "The magic to run an empire successfully and consistently."
  • "A CEO for nearly 20 years who still motivates and challenges as well as anyone. Has reinvented GE several times."
  • "The ability to constantly renew himself, remain fresh, creative, and productive."
  • "Decisive, energetic, incisive."
  • "Sets the vision and performance parameters. Rewards people." Other CEOs who received multiple mentions included:
  • Bob Eaton, Chrysler Corp. -- "Transformed company into one of the best in the world after starting as one of the weakest, while demonstrating willingness to change quickly."
  • Bill Gates, Microsoft Corp. -- "Created enormous shareholder value that seems sustainable, by driving market share at good margins through focus and new product innovation."
  • Larry Bossidy, AlliedSignal Inc. -- "Gets results. Straightforward. No nonsense."
  • Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway Inc. -- "Long-term orientation, straightforwardness, courage, communication skills, and charisma." Other most respected CEOs included:
  • Chuck Childers, Potash Corp. of Saskatchewan Inc. -- "He is strategic in his thinking and very effective at building a company."
  • Michael Dell, Dell Computer Corp. -- "Distributes quality [products] that advance the information age while creating shareholder value by the ton."
  • George Fisher, Eastman Kodak Co. -- "Has attempted to change his organization without asking his employees to shoulder the entire burden."
  • Don Fites, Caterpillar Inc. -- "He took on UAW and won."
  • Joe Ford, Alltel -- "Integrity, excellent job in difficult environment."
  • Kenneth Lay, Enron Corp. -- "Visionary. Developer of people."
  • Paul O'Neill, Aluminum Co. of America (Alcoa) -- "Proven ability to inculcate cultural change, thereby reducing costs and enhancing efficiency. A painful task made more palatable to constituencies as a result of his leadership qualities."
  • Jim Perrella, Ingersoll-Rand Co. -- "Has built an organization for the new millennium quietly and with class."

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