It would have been natural for Jeffrey Immelt to reflexively embrace the strategies of his predecessor, storied über-CEO Jack Welch, who built GE into one of the world's most profitable companies. But Immelt, 48, quickly went his own way, imposing new long-term strategies. When scandal erupted over Welch's perk-laden send-off, Immelt responded by taking a lead role in corporate reform. For starters, he put more independent directors on the board and got rid of stock options as part of his pay. "We know we are studied," he says. "We feel we have a responsibility. A good reputation is very important." --By...

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