Fortune lists tough bosses

NEW YORK -- General Electric Chairman John 'Neutron Jack' Welch Jr. is the toughest boss in America, based on a survey in which being autocratic, ruthless, grueling and intimidating were qualifications for the title.

Fortune Magazine made Welch No. 1 on its Top 10 tough bosses list as a result of interviews with employees, colleagues and competitors. The financial publication said Wednesday that Welch received almost twice as many nominations as the runners-up.


Fortune said Welch earned the name 'Neutron Jack' by announcing the closing of 25 plants.

'Managers at GE used to hide out-of-favor employees from Welch's gunsights so they could keep their jobs,' Fortune said. 'According to former employees, Welch conducts meetings so aggressively that people tremble.'

Following Welch on the tough boss list were William Klopman, head of Burlington Industries, and Andrew Grove, president of semiconductor manufacturer Intel.

Fortune said Klopman is considered 'autocratic and aloof' by those around him and that Grove is considered a 'connoisseur of confrontation.'

Richard Rosenthal, chairman of Citizens Utilities Co. of Stamford, Conn., 'possesses a legendary ego,' Fortune said, while Martin Davis, chief executive of Gulf & Western Industries Inc., made the list for being a 'master of intimidation.'

Fortune said Simon & Schuster president Richard Snyder was cited for his 'quick, flaring temper that has driven away talented employees.'

Also on the magazine's list are:

-Robert Malott, chairman of FMC Corp., a manufacturer of machinery and chemicals, who has 'a reputation for grueling management reviews' and will read or walk out of a meeting when he feels bored.

-Fred Ackman, chairman of Superior Oil, has an autocratic style that spawns executive turnover, Fortune said. In the year after Ackman joined Superior, nine of the company's top 13 executives quit.

-Joel Milow, head of the International Playtex division of Esmark, fires people unpredictably, 'including employees with good track records.'

-John Johnson, whose private company publishes 'Jet' and 'Ebony' magazines tends to ask employees who question his decisions: 'If you're so smart why aren't you rich?' former subordinates said.

Candidates for Fortune's list were culled from interviews with management consultants, executive recruiters, investors, corporate chairmen and other professionals. The magazine then talked to present and former employees to determine which 10 were actually regarded as toughest.

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