Support and Remove: The Philosophy of Jack Welch

Anwar Noor Baloch
I had to read different reports and articles about Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electronic before the case study of Jack Welch’s leadership style to be conducted virtually by me to the different levels of audiences. It took me around three weeks to do the research on him. It was not an easy journey but enjoyable, indeed. His books “Starting from Gut” and “Winning” have made my journey more knowledgeable in the field of business and management. I urge these books to be read.
The research’s focus was on leadership in general and specific on Jack Welch’s leadership style.  The interesting question is that, what makes leaders to become leaders. What is the leadership all about? Is it about leading people? Is it about influencing people? Is it about commanding people? Or is it about guiding people? Well, leadership is all about which have been mentioned. Each definition will be applied in different situation and with different people. At the end, people need to be commanded, guided, influenced and led.
Coming to the leadership style of Jack Welch, where it was asked that, how he was described as a leader? Was he tough and hardnosed? Was he easy and permissive or he was like a coach and persuasive? In my research I found he was tough and hardnosed, but there were reasons behind. Psychologists seek for reasons like what made Jack Welch to be different from Bill Gates and Steve Jobs?
Jack Welch joined General Electronic in 1960 and worked hard, but was not recognized and appreciated. There was a time when he became frustrated and wanted to quit the job. Despite he worked hard but did not get support from the management. He wanted to bring fairness and do good for General Electronic where there was a time of bankruptcy. It was during 1970s when he received a break and promoted as a Head of Strategic Planning.
His leadership journey was started during 1970s and he applied the concept of “Support and Remove”. He started to support good performers and removed those who failed to perform well.
If this concept applied in today’s modern organizations, then there would have been a lot of positive impacts on firms and businesses to progress and become profitable. Though, the theory and rule of “80/20” of Pareto still exists in most of the companies, but it is believed that, the concept of Jack Welch will serve companies for better results and makes employees to perform the best results in the competitive market.
Jack Welch was one of the most effective and efficient leaders who never wanted to be failed or sunk. He came up with the strategy of “Fix it, Sell it or Close it”. He found some of the branches were not performing well and he tried to fix the problem and makes it profitable. If it was not fixed, then he would have gone to sell it. If it was not sold, then he would have gone to close it. He did not give himself a chance to regret.
He came up with seven rules of leadership as he mentioned them in his book, the “Winning”. He elaborated the seven rules of leadership as:
  • Leaders relentlessly upgrade their team, using every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach, and build self-confidence.
  • Leaders make sure people not only see the vision, they live and breathe it.
  • Leaders get into everyone’s skin, exuding positive energy and optimism.
  • Leaders establish trust with candor, transparency, and credit.
  • Leaders have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls.
  • Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders on skepticism, making sure their questions are answered with action.
The hard work of Jack Welch as a leader and with his honesty made the General Electronic from nowhere to the top in the competitive market. He started to serve the GE as a CEO in 1981 and at that time the market capital of the company was $13 billion, the total revenues were $ 27.9 billion, the earnings were $ 1.6 billion and the number of employees were 4004.
Before he retired in 2000, he made the market capital from $ 13 billion to $ 525 billion. The total revenues increased from $ 27.9 billion to $ 111 billion, the earnings had been increased from $ 1.6 billion to $ 10.7 billion and number of employees became 34, 000 where in 1981 there were only 4004 employees.
The leadership style of Jack Welch teaches us that, the leadership is all about the fair actions, courage, honesty, and putting the right person at the right place.
DisclaimerViews expressed in this article are those of the author and Balochistan Voices not necessarily agrees with them.
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