“Loose-Tight” Leadership Builds Empires

I don’t believe in just ordering people to do things. You have to sort of grab an oar and row with them.


As a young entrepreneur trying to manage a fast-growing company, Patrick McGovern was influenced by Harold Geneen, an outspoken iconoclast who took over International Telephone and Telegraph Corporation (ITT) in 1959 and built it into a massive global conglomerate. During his 18-year tenure, Geneen grew the company from under $800 million in sales to $17 billion. Through countless acquisitions, he entered a variety of industries and geographies.

In the late 1960s, Geneen was the Steve Jobs of his day, a brash, self-involved visionary who reconsidered conventional ...

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