Jack Welch, CEO of General Electric

Jack Welsh (born November 19, 1935) chairman and CEO of General Electric from 1981 to 2001, led the company to outstanding results from both financial and operational perspectives. During his rise through the ranks of GE, he aggressively simplified managerial principles. Welsh’s public philosophy was that a company should either be #1 or #2 in it’s industry. To do achieve this goal, inefficiencies, underperforming management, reduced payrolls, and old-line units were cut.

After he stepped down from GE he advised for equity firm Clayton, Dublier & Rice and became more active in the public speaking circuit. writing about management in his book Winning. In 2006 Welsh picked up teaching at MIT’s Sloan School of Management before founding the Jack Welch Management Institute in 2009.

Some of my favorite Jack Welch quotes are:

An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.
Jack Welch

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.
Jack Welch

Change before you have to.
Jack Welch

Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it to be.
Jack Welch

If you pick the right people and give them the opportunity to spread their wings and put compensation as a carrier behind it you almost don’t have to manage them.
Jack Welch

Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act.
Jack Welch

Control your own destiny or someone else will.
Jack Welch

Willingness to change is a strength, even if it means plunging part of the company into total confusion for a while.
Jack Welch

You’ve got to eat while you dream. You’ve got to deliver on short-range commitments, while you develop a long-range strategy and vision and implement it. The success of doing both. Walking and chewing gum if you will. Getting it done in the short-range, and delivering a long-range plan, and executing on that.
Jack Welch

Number one, cash is king… number two, communicate… number three, buy or bury the competition.
Jack Welch

I’ve learned that mistakes can often be as good a teacher as success.
Jack Welch

You got to be rigorous in your appraisal system. The biggest cowards are managers who don’t let people know where they stand.
Jack Welch

Be candid with everyone.
Jack Welch

My main job was developing talent. I was a gardener providing water and other nourishment to our top 750 people. Of course, I had to pull out some weeds, too.
Jack Welch

The essence of competitiveness is liberated when we make people believe that what they think and do is important – and then get out of their way while they do it.
Jack Welch

There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There are work-life choices, and you make them, and they have consequences.
Jack Welch

Globalization has changed us into a company that searches the world, not just to sell or to source, but to find intellectual capital – the world’s best talents and greatest ideas.
Jack Welch

I was afraid of the internet… because I couldn’t type.
Jack Welch

I was never the smartest guy in the room. From the first person I hired, I was never the smartest guy in the room. And that’s a big deal. And if you’re going to be a leader – if you’re a leader and you’re the smartest guy in the world – in the room, you’ve got real problems.
Jack Welch

Don’t manage – lead change before you have to.
Jack Welch

Strong managers who make tough decisions to cut jobs provide the only true job security in today’s world. Weak managers are the problem. Weak managers destroy jobs.
Jack Welch

The team with the best players wins.
Jack Welch

About the Author Bill Ringle

Bill Ringle is a CEO, former Apple exec, published author, and angel investor. Through Grow Business Now, he offers strategies and tools to elevate growth for executives and entrepreneurs from more than 46 industries. Bill has conducted nearly 200 podcast interviews on My Quest for the Best, where industry and business leaders share their secrets to success.

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