Considered one of the most dynamic CEOs of all time, Jack Welch transformed General Electric from an aging electronics manufacturer overwhelmed by competitors into a world-class company that provided excellent returns to investors. In Jack Welch Speaks, author Janet Lowe has complied some of the admired businessman’s greatest wisdom.
- Welch on employee fit. “Even senior people with good results, doing great jobs in terms of numbers, but [who are] not walking the talk, have to be removed to support our values,” Welch once said. “We have to part company.” To ensure that managers were living up to GE values, they were rated by those they worked for and those who worked for them: “To embed our values, we give our people 360-degree evaluations, with imput from superiors, peers, subordinates. These are the roughest evaluations you can get, because people hear things about themselves they’ve never heard before.”
- Welch on making difficult decisions. “My biggest mistake was agonizing too much over difficult decisions. I should have done it faster,” he said. “But we’re all human. We don’t like to face up to some of the unpleasant things; removing somebody is the most unpleasant thing you have to do in life.” GE would have been better off if I had acted faster.”
- Welch on being friendly to the earth and having forsight. “When you go into a country and the [environmental] laws aren’t there, you’ve just got to know that the laws are going to be there, because it’s the right thing to do. Today, our awareness must be translated globally. We can’t go into Mexico unless we put in good water systems, treatment centers, all those things. Even though their laws aren’t there, 20 years from now, the laws will be there. And it’s the right thing to do.”
- Welch on how to build a highly successful company with legs. “You’re either the best at what you do, or you don’t do it for very long.”