GE is revered for many reasons. Other than being a pioneer in myriad fields, GE has been a treasure trove of talent for other companies and it has often provided the way forward for even those who were not looking. Many things that GE has done over the years have laid down new rules and have often written existing ones. From breaking shackles of tradition to setting a new tradition, GE management style is quite unique.
The GE management style can be largely attributed to Jack Welch, the man who steered the company for two decades. Jack Welch is a one of a kind leader and he has successfully created a legacy that is still churning out great leaders. So what is the secret or the prime ingredient of GE management style?
It is mostly discipline. A visit to the local bookstore will provide you access to at least a dozen books that have chronicled the evolution of GE management style. There will be conflicting ideas and quite diverse assessments of the work environment but through them you would find the most striking and constant factor, discipline.
Jack Welch said that change is good and one must never be afraid of it. Many leaders hence have said the same. But Jack Welch has also warned against being rash while change is being initiated or is unavoidable. Jack Welch believed in leading and not managing. Yet, the GE management style is about strict control in every department. GE management style focuses on grooming people who would be great leaders, can motivate others, instill energy and make larger contributions but those very same people are unable to flourish in environments beyond GE. So is the GE management style a box of paradoxes? Yes. Is it effective? Yes, for GE.
GE management style has been hailed by one and all. It is not necessarily good for every other company. But it works for GE.
Focus, consistence, active participation of everyone but taking charge of the reins when needed and possibly being dictatorial in such situations are some of the hallmarks of GE management style. The company is largely bureaucratic. Very few changes are initiated at the junior levels. The company has been unconventional in many ways and in the process has established certain conventions which are now a part of the legacy, not to be trampled with.
Indeed, GE management style is one of a kind.