Comparing the tenures of Jack Welch and Jeff Immelt as CEO of General Electric (NYSE: GE ) is almost a pointless endeavor from an investor's perspective. In the end, the primary focus of General Electric investors is shareholder return, and in the 13 years of Immelt's leadership, the stock's return (adjusted for dividends and stock splits) is just 9.4% compared to Welch's 5,400% during his 20-year stint as CEO, from 1981 to 2001. The difference is stark. However, Immelt is a much better leader than those numbers might suggest; here's why I think he's taking the company in the right direction.
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