Jack Welch, the legendary chief executive who transformed General Electric into one of the most successful companies of the last century during his tenure died today according to media reports. He was 84.
Welch was one of the most widely-followed and imitated CEOs of our time, who made lean operations a cornerstone of modern management and nurtured a who’s who of executives who went on to run many of the nation’s best-known businesses after leaving GE. He was named Chief Executive of the Year in 1993. He presided over a stock surge of nearly 3,000 percent during his tenure, according to Bloomberg.
His influence on a generation of management thinking is indisputable. In an online master class he co-hosted last year on employee engagement with Chief Executive and Execute to Win, an Arizona consultancy, Welch laid out his basic principles for leadership. It’s a reminder of his powerful ability to distill and communicate complexity though simple shorthand—that identifying, focusing and communicating a few key elements is, in many ways, the most essential CEO skill.
“People talk employee engagement, but they don’t live it,” he said. “You’ve got to live it every day. You’ve got to get into the skin of your people. You’ve got to make them feel the objectives, make them feel where you’re going. How you’re going to get there and what they have to do to participate and what’s in it for them when you get there. If you do that, you engage.
“In a business, there are two measurements that count. Employee engagement and customer satisfaction. You get those two things right and then you measure cash flow—and cash flow is the ultimate measurement. You’ll watch your cash flow grow as you engage your employees and satisfy your customers.”