Update and Caution: August 10, 2022: We are both elated and worried about the wild popularity of this post. Serious questions are being raised about Jack Welch’s style, as depicted in this post. See recent criticism by David Gelles in “The Man Who Broke Capitalism: How Jack Welch Gutted the Heartland and Crushed the Soul of Corporate America―and How to Undo His Legacy.” Some GE managers who worked during Welch’s time seem to agree though ex-Home Depot CEO Bob Nardelli is still a steadfast supporter of Jack Welch’s leadership style. Welch was widely considered the manager of the century. The Jack Welch century was the 20th Century. Do check out what seems to be working in leadership in 2022.: Leadership Style 2022: Jack Welch or Satya Nadella?
To evaluate managers GE started a system of differentiating managers on performance but were hard pressed to identify the characteristics that differentiated managers on the “Vitality” curve which is essentially a “grading” curve or graph for managers. The word “vitality” is confusing because it refers more to being vital or essential to the organization rather than being “vital” in the “having high energy” sense. In fact,”Energy” is one of the 4 E’s but let’s go over the 4 E’s of GE leadership briefly: