Harold Geneen

American businessman (1910-1997)

Harold S. Geneen (January 22, 1910November 21, 1997) was an American businessman who served as the CEO of the ITT Corporation (1959-1977).


  • I don't believe in just ordering people to do things. You have to sort of grab an oar and row with them. My philosophy is to stay as close as possible to what's happening. If I can't solve something, how the hell can I expect my managers to?

Managing (1985)

Managing, Geneen and Moscow, Granada Publishing Ltd. (1985)
  • You cannot run a business, or anything else, on a theory.
    • Chapter One (Theory G on Management), p. 13.
  • In the business world, everyone is paid in two coins; cash and experience. Take the experience first; the cash will come later.
    • Chapter Three (Experience and Cash), p. 39.
  • Every company has two organizational structures: the formal one is written on the charts; the other is the everyday living relationship of the men and women in the organization.
    • Chapter Four (Two Organizational Structures), p. 64.
  • Management manages by making decisions and by seeing that those decisions are implemented.
    • Chapter Four (Two Organizational Structures), p. 69.
  • Managers in all too many American companies do not achieve the desired results because nobody makes them do it.
    • Chapter Five (Management Must Manage), p. 86.
  • It is much more difficult to measure non-performance than performance. Performance stands out like a ton of diamonds. Non-performance can almost always be explained away.
    • Chapter Six (Leadership), p. 89.
  • Leadership cannot really be taught. It can only be learned.
    • Chapter Six (Leadership), p. 99.
  • Leadership is practiced not so much in words as in attitude and in actions..
    • Chapter Six (Leadership), p. 111.
  • The best way to inspire people to superior performance is to convince them by everything you do and by your everyday attitude that you are wholeheartedly supporting them.
    • Chapter Six (Leadership), p. 112.
  • A true leader has to have a genuine open-door policy so that his people are not afraid to approach him for any reason. A man should feel free to tell his chief executive to his face, 'I think you're dead wrong about such and such, and here are my reasons.'
    • Chapter Six (Leadership), p. 113.
  • The worst disease which can afflict business executives in their work is not, as popularly supposed, alcoholism; it's egotism.
    • Chapter Eight (Not Alcoholism—Egotism), p. 127.
  • When you have mastered the numbers, you will in fact no longer be reading numbers, any more than you read words when reading a book. You will be reading meanings.
    • Chapter Nine (The Numbers), p. 151.
  • It is better to take over and build upon an existing business than to start a new one.
    • Chapter Ten (Acquisitions and Growth), p. 158.
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