Project Management Institute


John Krenecki, GE Energy

John Krenecki, President and CEO, GE Energy, Atlanta, Ga., USA

GIVEN THE RAPID AND SWEEPING changes taking place across the business world, leaders must convey an unbridled passion for their work and, even more important, for their people. The fact is that the best leaders motivate well because they are motivated themselves. Motivation is contagious.

In my 20-plus years at GE spanning a wide range of roles, my source of motivation has never been far away: the talented and passionate professionals with whom I work. Not only do talented people make for better business results, they also help create an environment that their colleagues and leaders feed off, displaying behaviors that can't help but drive business success.

Several traits displayed by effective motivators are clearly distinctive. First, effective motivators focus on results versus effort. The business adage says, “You get no points for potential.” The best sources of motivation make it clear to their teams that, at the end of the day, trying hard is not enough. Customer satisfaction and meeting financial commitments are the only real measures of success.

Second, they go deep in all areas of the business and their projects. To motivate, you have to be credible. Locker room speeches are fine on film, but real motivation can come only from a true knowledge and understanding of the business and project details. That can happen only when a leader becomes immersed in the true intricacies of how the business succeeds.

Third, effective motivators leverage their experience but strive to stay contemporary. Although experience is a great asset, the simple truth is that we will never do things tomorrow the way we do them today. The leaders who are able to bring what they have learned and adapt to the rapid, changing business environment will be better positioned to succeed.

Finally, gifted motivators surround themselves with great people and promote the best. There's no shame in hiring people who could someday replace you. In fact, that's precisely how you get the best people on your team. Successful leaders groom their successors, and talented people are attracted by and recognize that.

Obviously, a number of other qualities contribute to effective motivation, but the consistent theme is that it starts and ends with great people—people who are motivated by their leaders but who also serve as a tremendous source of motivation in their own right.

Having assumed the leadership of GE's Energy business only a few months ago, I'm fortunate to have inherited an amazingly talented team. Not only does this team continue to educate me about the energy business, but it also provides me with an endless source of motivation.



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