top of page

JACK WELCH AND LEADERSHIP - By James W. Robinson


Executive Lessons Of The Master CEO

Chapter 2 - Jack Welch’s “Earning And Cash Engine”

  • Charles A Coffin: He called employees associates

Chapter 4 - Messing With Success

  • Leaders change before they have to. They look over the horizon and prepare today to meet tomorrows challenges.

  • Leaders don’t back down in the face of criticism. They stay the course.

  • Leaders love change. They embrace it. They turn it into opportunity.

  • But leaders are not so arrogant to think they can control change or even predict it.

  • If you don’t love change it wont love you

  • Change before you have to

  • don’t be satisfied with the status quo, even when it looks pretty good.


Chapter 5: Man Of Ideas. Man Of Action.

  • Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important quality in a good leader. Don’t tall victim to what I call the “ready-aim-aim-aim syndrome.” You must be willing to fire. - T. Boone Pickens

  • “Welch will say yes. Welch will say no. But he never says maybe,”

Chapter 8: People Power

Empowering People

  • Creating an environment where every person feels free to contribute and is motivated to put in extra effort is no simple task. Jack Welch spent years devising the mechanisms, such as Work'-Out and Six Sigma, to create this climate at GE.

  • Arguments and debates should be encouraged, as long as they are conducted with respect. Creative conflict produces better ideas and exposes weak ones. Bringing disagreements out in the open reduces hallway gossip sessions and water-cooler whispering.

  • Leaders must set the tone at the top and make a personal commitment to fostering an inclusive environment. Simply declaring it as an organization policy is not enough.

Chapter 9 - From Bureaucracy To Meritocracy

  • “We remove 10 to 15 percent of our executives on an annual basis for non-performance. Most corporations don’t do that.”

  • That’s why he called them leaders, not managers. “Call people managers and they are going to start managing things, getting in the way.” he told Fortune. “The job of a leader is to take the available resources - human and financial - and allocate them rigorously. Not to spread them out evenly like butter on bread. That’s what bureaucrats do.”

  • Executives were also judged strictly in their disposition of the bottom 10 percent of underachievers. Not firing them was regarded as “not only a management failure but false kindness as well - a form of cruelty.”

  • GE chairman defined an “A” player: “A man or woman with a vision and the ability to articulate that vision to the team, so vividly and so powerfully that it also becomes their vision.” These stars must also have the “courage to make the tough call - decisively but with fairness and absolute integrity.”

  • “As we go forward there will be nothing but ‘A’s’ in every leadership position in this Company.”

  • General Norman Schwarzopf has defined leadership as “a combination of strategy and character. If you must be without one, be without the strategy.”

  • Type IV Managers: Those who make their numbers but don’t share the values.

  • “You lose people until you move them out.”

  • We began removing Type IV managers and made it clear to the entire Company why they were being asked to leave… not the usual “personal reasons” or to “pursue other opportunities” but for not sharing our values.

  • Until an organization develops the courage to do this, people will never have full confidence that these soft values are truly real.


  • Elevating to the top those who not only delivered financial results but who also made respect for and nurturing of people their top priority.

Hiring, Firing, and Rewarding Employees

  • Firing must be done with humanity

  • Capable people can at the same time be disruptive and destructive forces, poisoning the work environment and driving other potential star employees our the door.

Chapter 10 - The Leader as Teacher

  • “My job is selecting people, evaluating people, giving them self-confidence, building people and spreading ideas.” - Welch

  • “The art of getting someone else to do something you want done because he wants to do it.”

  • He doggedly repeats the same messages over and over again.

  • “We weren’t managing better. We were managing less and that was better.”

Leaders Create Leaders

  • “The best leaders are really coaches.”

  • “Our true ‘core competency’ is not manufacturing