During the 20th century, Jack Welch embodied the classic success story of working up the corporate ladder to achieve professional and career goals. Writer, business leader, and chemical engineer Welch started his career out of grad school at General Electric in 1960. For the next 40 years, he worked his way up from junior engineer through the ranks of leadership and became GE’s CEO in 1981, holding the office for the next 20 years. During his tenure, he grew GE’s market share from $12 billion to $410 billion through his aggressive, streamlined approach to leadership.
Throughout his career, he understood not only the importance of self-development but also the development of others.
“Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
Named “Manager of the Century” by Fortune magazine, Welch had a hard-nosed approach to employees. While he expanded stock options and bonuses for those in the top 20%, he was known for firing the lower 10% of managers each year. His view was to be successful, a company has to have the right team. Employees who aren’t focused on the company’s vision and overall success are seen as a hindrance. Employee engagement is key to success.
“No company, small or large, can win over the long run without energized employees who believe in the mission and understand how to achieve it.”
While there are many schools of thought as to the best way to run an organization and lead a team, this viewpoint is prevalent for leaders in small and large organizations. Success is tied to energized, engaged employees. It was true when Welch was CEO of GE, and it’s still true today.
Who are some of your favorite leaders? What have you learned by studying their work? Let us know in the comments section below!