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Management Insights and Leadership Secrets of the Legendary CEO, Jack Welch

Leadership is anything but easy. It requires you to maintain a constant balance between short-term goals and long-term objectives by using your knowledge, skill and experience, and of course, by leading a team of people. And when we talk about great corporate leaders, it is hard to miss out on one name: Jack Welch.

Jack Welch led General Electric for more than 20 years before retiring in 2001. The man is famously recognized among the most respected and successful business leaders in the modern era. After all, he increased GE’s worth by nearly 4000% during his term. From $1.5 billion, he took the profits to an impressive $15 billion and the market capitalization of GE pumped up to $400 billion!

One of the greatest accomplishments of Welch was his restructuring strategy, which was aimed at getting every division ranked at either Number 1 or Number 2 in its specific category globally.

Several corporate leaders look up to Welch when attempting to scale operations and to run their companies in a more efficient and profitable way. They also try and imitate his leadership approach for better staff management. Here we have some key rules of management and leadership from Jack Welch for all aspiring corporate leaders.

Leaders are constantly working to strengthen their teams

Welch is of the opinion that you have excellent players in your team, there is absolutely no risk of losing. This is why a leader needs to invest time and energy in coaching, assessing and boosting each member’s self-confidence. According to Welch, ‘people development’ needs to be done on a daily basis; it should be incorporated into each aspect of an operation. He adds that it is critical for leaders to identify and appreciate the hard work of their team members as this will help encourage optimum performance and instill greater confidence in them.

Consider yourself as ‘business leaders’ rather than managers

In a 1999 Harvard Business Review interview, Welch had said something very significant. He replaced the word ‘manager’ with ‘business leader’ and explained that a good business leader creates a vision. He/she articulates and owns this vision and makes every possible effort to turn it into reality. Welch added that the most prized trait of a good leader is that he/she is open. A leader doesn’t remain stuck to the formally established channels of communication. They will go anywhere and everywhere, up and down the ladder, to reach out to people in the organization. And they love narrating their story, always.

Directness is the best policy

Welch is a fan of simple, direct communication. He believes that it is the moral responsibility of a leader/manager to let their team members know as to where each of them stands. By informing them about where they need to make improvements, you are actually helping them shape their future.

Bureaucracy is a waste of time

According to Welch, if there is one thing that can kill an organization, it is bureaucracy. It’s one of the primary causes of delayed decision making because it requires unnecessary procedures and approvals, rendering a firm less competitive. Welch believes that each employee should consistently work towards eliminating bureaucracy. Simplification and removal of formality and complexity should be the aim of every organization as it will lead to greater responsiveness and agility. Every leader should coach their team members to drop redundant work and cooperate with their colleagues to make the decision-making process more streamlined.

Leaders should exude positivity

The former GE leaders believe that successful leaders are equipped to fight all negative forces and can encourage their employees with increased optimism. He says that as a leader, you should never allow tough competition or a poor economy to affect to an extent that the negativity bug is transferred to the team.

Treating people differently is important

While most leaders and organizations struggle to offer equal treatment to all employees, Welch believes that this isn’t necessarily the best policy and restrict the growth of a company. In one of his popular leadership books, he wrote that differentiation is about extremity-reward the deserving and weed out the futile. If you want real stars working for your organization, vigorous differentiation is necessary and will help build a great business. There are leaders who contend Welch’s approach when it comes to employee treatment. They feel that unequal treatment is against the fundamentals of teamwork and may lead to poor morale. But it is important to understand that the philosophy of Welch is based completely on treating employees well. He believes that this leads to the development of the most brilliant ideas across an organization.

Don’t forget to have some fun

Welch is a strong advocate of making your employees have fun at work. Whether you have a six-member team or 400,000 people working for you, it is important to recognize and celebrate team victories. An office always suffers if there is stubborn energy. As a leader, you should check in with yourself every now and then to ensure that you’re thinking about the team first.

Over the years, Welch’s style of management and leadership became so popular that he started an online business school called the ‘Jack Welch Management Institute’. Princeton Review has ranked it as one of the top MBA programs for aspiring entrepreneurs and corporate leaders.

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