To say Jack Welch was an outstanding chief executive is an understatement. But it wasn’t all the usual metrics by which we judge CEO performance that defined him.
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Yes, he took a $12 billion company and made it into a $420 billion juggernaut. And yes, General Electric’s stock soared more than 4,000 percent under his leadership.
But the real legacy of Jack Welch lies not so much in his ample business IQ, as in his even more remarkable “human” EQ … what he had in his heart, not just his brain. He led with that heart, and as his runaway bestseller aptly put it, decided the things that mattered, “straight from the gut.”
Very few had his passion or unique ability to energize workers. With the possible exception of Lee Iacocca, Welch realized that great leaders are defined not by how they handle the things that go well, but precisely the things that do not. He got that “gusto” matters, energizing folks matters, and yes, even leading with a laugh and a killer smile matters.
There’s a reason Warren Buffett called Welch the “Tiger Woods of management.” He was, and he will forever remain. Remember this is the man who literally invented something called the “vitality curve.” It was his unique measure for promising corporate leaders – defined not so much by the school they went to but the energy they had a way of making contagious.
Welch was that energy. He was that corporate contagion – in all the best of ways. He defined what it means to lead, and after leaving the corporate world, how to teach those who want to lead. He was famous for not suffering fools gladly, but would gladly tell them with a wink and a nod why such types might want to do something else.
Brutally honest, relentlessly engaged, forever jazzed. Not a bad legacy. Not a bad legacy, at all.