Jack Welch, the CEO who led General Electric to its prominence in the ’90s, passed away March 1, 2020. With his passing, we’ve lost a legend. We were honored to have interviewed Jack Welch while writing NUTS! At the time of our research, Welch was GE’s chairman and CEO. Even to this day, GE builds the engines for Southwest’s fleet of 737s.
Here are a few Jack Welch quotes to ponder – they are both timely and timeless leadership principles.
Simple is hard!
“Only self-confident people can be simple.”
Welch went on to say, “Think about it, you get some engineer who is nervous and not too sure of himself. He can’t explain his design to you in very simple terms so he complicates it. If you’re not simple, you can’t be fast and if you’re not fast, you’re dead in a glocal world. So everything we do at GE focuses on building self-confidence in people so we can be simple.”
Engaging people’s hearts and minds is the key to everything!
“I think any company that’s trying to play in the 1990s has got to find a way to engage the minds of every single employee. If you’re not thinking about making every person valuable, you don’t have a chance. What’s the alternative? Wasted minds? Uninvolved people? A labor force that’s angry or bored? That doesn’t make sense!”
“The only way to change people’s minds is with consistency. Once you get the ideas, you keep refining and improving them; the more simple your idea is defined, the better it is. You communicate, you communicate and then you communicate some more. Consistency, simplicity and repetition is what it’s all about.”
You are only as good as your last (sale, innovation, hire, speech, book, quarter…you name it)!
Welch was a huge fan of Southwest Airlines, yet he was also a realist and he told us, “Southwest Airlines is only as good as its last trip.”
Bottom line, we’re all only as good as our last success. In honor of his passing, thank you, Jack, for the legacy you’ve left in so many of us. You’ve transformed the practice of management and leadership today.