Jack Welch needs no introduction. For those who have not followed the lives and times of great business leaders, Jack Welch was the CEO of GE from 1981. He was the youngest ever CEO of GE and he helmed the conglomerate for two decades.
Jack Welch has been controversial and he has been successful. He has been loved and he has been disliked by many. But one thing you cannot dispute is the impact Jack Welch has had in GE and in the world of business at large. In effect, he devised a new form of leadership or management, which has come to be known as the Jack Welch management style.
There are many types of leadership that are categorized and all such styles are very well defined. Most business leaders can be classified into any of the established categories but then someone like Jack Welch comes to the fore from time to time and redefines everything you thought you knew about leadership and management.
What Is The Jack Welch Management Style?
You cannot call it participative or democratic in its purest sense. It is visionary but then that is a very ambiguous leadership style. One could call Jack Welch management style situational because he loved dealing with situations as and when needed. His leadership was also transformational as he loved changes and defied tradition. He always advocated for positive transformations. And he did not mind risking something safe to bear the generous rewards.
Key Components to Jack Welch’s Management Style
The most striking aspect of his leadership was his lack of hands-on management. He did not like to manage people. He made it sound like manipulating others. Instead, Jack Welch liked to lead. He led from the front, at times allowed others to lead when their expertise was needed and he always showed the way but did not handhold someone who could not deliver, he did not try to micromanage what his workers were doing and he did not like breathing down his employees’ neck.
Jack Welch believed in establishing who is what and what everyone is expected to do. Beyond that he disliked hierarchy or bureaucracy. He believed that everything must be based on merit and that talent should determine who would be where and what powers one should be bestowed with. In his countless interactions with his immediate juniors and the staffs of GE, he had always ensured that everyone knew what their role was and if they were doing it right. Regular performance reviews and showing others where they went right and wrong, pulling up those who were not performing and rewarding merit or achievement where it was due encompassed Jack Welch’s approach towards management.
Jack Welch was a staunch believer in the concept of a team. He believed that the only thing that could consequentially change the fortune of a company was the people working in the company. People build teams and teams make an organization. Products are innovative and they become passé, ideas become outdated and there would always be something new to do. What should matter the most are the people who would be innovating, coming up with ideas and would do what has to be done. His emphasis on team building is one of the highlights of Jack Welch management style.
Jack Welch management was about realism. As much you would admire him for his vision and transformational leadership, he was a pragmatist and always liked looking at things just as they were. Every perception he had, every understanding and everything he did was through the prism of reality. He disliked assumptions and never speculated in his position as CEO of GE. That is what he recommends managers and leaders to do. Assuming can at best get someone close to an educated guess. Being realistic and being aware of the facts would get one close to the solution.
Jack Welch management style also focused on training or developing leaders. It is widely believed that good leaders are hard to come by and great leaders are even rarer. The difference between good and great leaders is that the latter can create good leaders. Jack Welch has been instrumental in grooming a major part of the top brass at GE and his legacy thus still continues.
Jack Welch monitored his employees closely but he was never autocratic and he did not snatch the power of autonomy. He maintained a fine balance of providing freedom to his employees and then ensuring that the freedom is not misused or abused. He believed in less formal approaches while dealing with subordinates, a strategy that was initially criticized but what proved to be a masterstroke.
Finally, Jack Welch believed in inspiring and motivating others to achieve greatness. He detested managing everything to achieve the preset goals.