The Ceo Trap

Looking for superheroes to deliver sky-high growth ensures disappointment

In the end, after all the superlatives have been exhausted, this fact will loom large in assessing John F. Welch's impact: He lasted. If Welch carries through with his plan to remain as chief executive of General Electric Co. until the end of 2001, his tenure will reach an even 20 years--an eternity in the dog years by which today's CEOs measure their time. Welch is a Hall of Famer, the Cal Ripken of the executive suite. But the way things are going in the business world, your average major-league rookie would seem to have a better chance of breaking Ripken's consecutive-game record than a new CEO would have of matching Welch's longevity.

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