Jack Welch: Leadership in the 21st century

Topics: Management, Leadership, Decision making Pages: 26 (6642 words) Published: April 2, 2013
Jack Welch – Leadership in the 21st century
(extract from “Winning Leadership - a guide to
Whitepaper available from www.davidparmenter.com )



By David Parmenter
Where do you start to analyse the leadership traits of Jack Welch. The CEO who took General Electric (GE) from being worth $10billion to $500 billion... He has been successful on many levels, as a master of maintaining profitability, as a nurturer of talent as well as a writer and speaker. Forbes magazine crowned him the best business leader of the 20th century. Many GE shareholders looked back with a smile and thanked their lucky stars that they had invested in GE.

I would like to explore Welch’s achievements through a model of winning leadership. This model looks at leadership from two perspectives. What foundations stones need to be in place in order to lead? As Jack Welch would say these are the ‘tickets to the game’. Secondly, what are the traits that a leader needs to master in order to be as effective as Jack Welch clearly was?

engage &
trust B

results and B

Gather &
learn from


Winning Leadership


Making B

Champion of
Quality and B

Recruiting &
promoting B

the CSFs
the future

baggage B

Student of

Develop &
maintain B

Master of
Love thy
neighbour as communication mentors and
and PR B a safe haven
thyself B

of positive B

Fearless in
pursuit of
legacy B

This article attempts to pull together much that has been already written about Jack Welch, his own views from many recorded Welch interviews and his masterpiece book “Winning” co-authored by Suzy Welchi

Prepared by David Parmenter parmenter@waymark.co.nz
Copyright ©2010

Welch’s Five Foundation Stones
Minimise personal baggage
Reading Jack Welch’s book it is clear that he is aware of his failings and has done his utmost to overcome them. Peter Drucker, who observed Jack Welch, commented on Welch’s ability to actively listen. Whilst I am unaware of what personal development work Welch has undertaken one can assume he has learnt much from the leadership and management training he received at General Electric’s Crotonville training school. In addition Welch has spoken for thousands of hours at the training school and thus would be more aware than most CEOs of the damage personal baggage can bring to a career.

Love thy neighbour as thyself
Whilst Mr Welch was one of the highest paid CEO’s in the last two decades and was responsible for shutting down many underperforming GE units, he did exude many traits that indicate he had a love for the common man. You can see by his answers to the many Q&A sessions that have been documented you tube. that caring for the fellow staff member does not mean that you should hide behind reality. Jack Welch was one of the first CEOs to talk about “candour”, meaning being honest and up front with underperforming staff. He said it is a leader’s obligation to tell their staff how they are doing and how they can improve performance in a candid way. what they can improve in a candid way. As Welch points out candour has many benefits:

It allows more people to participate in the conversation

It generates enerates speed

It cuts costs

It encourages underperformers to reflect on their achievements and move forward so they are able to perform to their greatest potential.toOne has to realise that under performing staff members may well be in the wrong place at the wrong time and thus encouraging them to follow their passion, to find the job in which they will excel, in is the kindest thing you can do for them. As a good friend and writer, Bruce Holland says “there is a golden Buddha in all of us”.

In this section I also put...
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