Five Tips from a Successful Businessman: W. George Krall

Old school General Electric executive George Krall offers advice for success.

Story by Eddy Hoyle

George Krall is shown with a CFM56 jet engine in 1982

W. George Krall spent a 34-year career at General Electric and retired as corporate vice president and general manager of the Aircraft Engine Manufacturing division. He oversaw nine manufacturing plants and 21,000 employees.

Krall earned his bachelor’s degree at Dartmouth College as well a master’s in science in mechanical engineering. While at Dartmouth, he worked for one year on a research project in the Office of Naval Research studying combustion characteristics of small droplets of fuel, which, he explained, is very important to aircraft. Krall added it was total coincidence that he ended up in GE’s Aircraft Engine Division.

Krall started his career at GE in a three-year training program followed by work in the radio receiver division, the large steam turbine division, and finally in the aircraft division. He describes himself as an “old school guy” who believes in making sure “you’re tied to a good organization that has longevity, but it’s perseverance and hard work that will get you up the corporate ladder.”

Krall discovered Hilton Head in 1974 when he bought his first property, a condo for long weekends and vacations. He became a full-time resident in 1990 after retiring. He and his wife, Marianne, are active members of the island community.

George’s Tips for Success:

1. Stop complaining. “I never had a job or assignment where I didn’t learn something. Do the best you can in every job or assignment. Complaining about your job doesn’t do anything,” Krall said. “There is always something you can learn and there is no such thing as a bad assignment. Bosses don’t like those who constantly complain or need hand-holding.” Know what your responsibilities are and get the job done.

2. Give it all you have. Krall said you have to apply yourself and give maximum effort. “I stayed late and rarely took vacations. To be successful you have to set objectives and goals for yourself and really work at them.” He believes in dedication to the job and that leaders inspire and teach by example: be the first one in, and the last one to leave. “Never go home on time,” he said.

3. Hire competent people. Recognize that you can’t do everything yourself, so hire competent people and groom them for success. “I didn’t have a mentor myself, and I learned that the world can sometimes be crueler than you’d think. So I set broad goals and let those under me decide how to get the job done. If they couldn’t get it done, then they were the wrong people.”

4. Hands-on management, not micromanagement. Krall said that in very large organizations, you need hands-on management, but you don’t have the time, inclination or need to micromanage. With hands-on management, you ask your staff how they’re doing, if there are any problems, what they need, and you get involved in the problems.

5. Don’t waste time. “I’m a great guy for small, short meetings and I feel that long meetings are a disaster. They are counterproductive and a waste of time,” Krall said. “Know what you need to accomplish and understand that with a chain of command everyone knows their role, so communicate goals, objectives and expectations with absolute clarity.”