Leadership Lessons From Jack Welch

Mar 10, 2020 | Growth Tips, Leadership

Do you apply Jack Welch’s management tactics to your business? You should, in my opinion.

Jack Welch, the former CEO of GE, passed away last week; he was the best CEO of the last century, or at least since I have been alive.

He was my mentor from afar, and I was sad to read of his passing. I have always taken to heart his biggest insight, which came to mind yet again as I read his obituary. (I will share this insight below.)

I first saw him speak about 25 years ago, and I was impressed by the way he handled critique…someone stood up and said the GE toasters were terrible and unworthy of the GE name. He didn’t disagree, he thanked this person and accepted responsibility. That showed professionalism, tact and open mindset. (How would you fare in those same circumstances?)

Unfortunately, many pundits today are claiming he was not a great leader, based on how poorly GE has done under his successors. That is unfair, and sad to read the cheap shots.

Here are 4 strategies Jack championed, that you can use today:

1. He got out of markets where GE could not be a leader (#1 or 2 in market share.) This is directly applicable to you; don’t dabble, but rather commit when you start a new service or want to grow an existing service. It’s costly to over diversify or ignore poor performance, as Jack learned back then, and I try to teach today. Note: I will speak about this at my upcoming Scaling Your Landscape Business event next Monday.

2. He allowed aspiring and young employees to directly interact with the company leaders, by removing useless layers of middle management. Of course, GE had more layers than you. Nonetheless, how well do you give your young leaders the chance to rub shoulders with you?

He also developed his own internal GE University where he would personally teach his up-and-comers. How much time and attention do you spend training your people on technical, management and customer service skills?

3. He never let underperformers stay at his company. He was ruthless, firing the bottom 10% each year using forced ranking. You don’t need to be as arbitrary, but you do need to protect your company from culture killers and underperformers and do continual reviews and goal setting, in order to raise up your staff. Jack showed that companies that hustle and measure results will win, and it’s your job to instil that.

4. The one that stands closest to my heart: He undertook a strategic planning exercise with one of the top consultants of his time, and they determined that the best strategy to combat a bad economy or take advantage of great economy, was in fact, the same strategy: Build a killer leadership team and bench. He did, and he won.

This is what I also do when I consult one-on-one with landscape firms, and it has proven dramatically helpful in every case.

But I take it a step further than Jack Welch and take time to help B and B+ leaders become A and A+ leaders, by supplying them with custom tools and shining a spotlight on their blind spots. Every leader has one blind spot holding her or him back from greatness. What’s yours?

Your challenge:

Find out what it would take for your company to become a top leader in your market.

Did you know that the “top” landscape, irrigation, lawn care and tree companies outperform the industry average by 3-4x? They achieve 3-4x higher in profitability than the typical green industry business. Where do you stand?