Speaker: Jack Welch
Introduction for Jack Welch
When I was asked to introduce
The Leader of The Century for 2011
my first question was,
“Is it going to be the creative,
experimental risk taker,
or maybe the charismatic,
domineering battler Lee Iacocca?
Wrong on both counts.
The voice on the other end of the phone said,
“No just the ruthless pursuer of performance,
I almost dropped the receiver.
I have followed his leadership capabilities
through the years.
Jack Welch has been a true friend
He is the only person
I know who can look at a company
and draw from his experiences
to create a new culture within an organization.
He is the most studied CEO of the 20th century.
Jack Welch began his forty one year career
with the General Electric Company in 1960,
and in 1981 became the company’s eighth chairman
Fortune named him
“Manager of the century,”
and the Financial Times named him
one of the three most admired business leaders
in the world.
It is my great pleasure
to introduce The Leader of The Century for 2011,
What an honor and distinction to be The Leader of the Century for 2011.
and good afternoon.
Why are we here?
The Leaders of the Century Award Committee’s
importance brings clarity to those who are considered
a leader of their times
and why they were nominated for the award.
These twelve men and woman congregated
to determine out of thirty nominations
who would be The Leader of The Century.
Their task was not an easy one.
Each candidate had years of experience to explore.
Knowing the importance of examining their actions
and the impact they made.
In my opinion,
business is about people.
At the end of the day,
people are what matter.
In life there are leaders and followers.
Through my life I have mastered leadership skills,
learning that without trust,
you have nothing.
The award committee has chosen me
as a reflection of my leadership
I am deeply moved.
I share this award
with all who worked with me.
Distinguished Leaders of the Century Award Committee,
esteemed Executive Leaders,
Board of Directors,
and my dear family,
Thank you. (Pause)
Thank you for seeing my visions.
Thank you for supporting my leadership.
Being the CEO from 1981 – 2001 had been a great honor.
The fundamental style of working with others for me
was primarily to create an organizational learning culture.
Risk was rewarded to the employees
and for attaining their goals.
This was accomplished by implementing changes
in the organizational mission,
and structure through focusing on qualities
such as vision,
and relationship building.
While enhancing the organizational culture
of General Electric,
I incorporated personal identification
between the employees and myself.
I defined shared beliefs reflecting important
and essential issues faced by
members of the group.
Empowering the employees to perform
beyond their expectations.
I stimulated intelligence within the workforce.
I have been told (Slow down)
that I depicted
as a CEO by first,
identifying my vision to the team.
setting examples by leading by example.
communicating a common goal.
placing high performance values on each member of the group.
And last but,
not least fifth,
respect for employees
and explaining that each position within the organization
has room for improvement,
if they reflect on increasing performance.
How can we get less formal?
Not only was the changing of the reward system important
for implementation of the new goals,
I had also brought an air of informality to the company.
From the beginning,
I requested everyone to call me Jack.
My father was Mr. Welch, not me. (Pause)
When people voice their ideas,
the corporation gets less formal.
I don’t wear ties to work
and I have been known
to hold informal meetings
and encourage everyone to lighten up.
Informality inspires people to have more ideas
and it is one of the keys to GE’s success.
My vision incorporated the development of employees,
as well as their suppliers.
I communicated with individuals
on a consistent basis
and at times with hand written notes.
To increase pride,
and to give everyone a sense of value
resulting in building an efficient workplace.
I believe that our relationship was built on trust,
towards my employees and coworkers.
I motivated them
with my vision
But, how can we immerse ourselves
in learning you ask?
My vision and desire
to transform GE into a learning organization
not only helped to educate the employees but,
expanded this philosophy inside
as well as outside the organization.
It empowered all who were associated
with this company. (Pause)
To encourage the company to lead.
You and I together found a way to lead.
I launched a program for mentoring.
The mentoring and coaching programs
for the employees
proceeded to gear us towards personal development
within the company.
Every manager was a mentor.
I believe that a disparate conglomerate
was transformed into a global teaching organization.
I have to admit and be honest,
at this point and time.
I was afraid of the internet
because I couldn’t type.
I found the self-confidence to overcome my fear.
I found the self-confidence to go head on to make my dreams
for GE a reality.
I found the self-confidence to lead.
Incorporated within my philosophy was trustworthiness
which to me
was the key.
You must gain the trust of your people.
If you don’t have their trust,
you’ll never be a great leader.
This aspect was crucial to encourage the employees,
and suppliers in order for them to trust
and accept the beliefs,
and new organizational goals to increase our productivity
the year before I became CEO,
GE recorded revenues of roughly $26.8 billion,
the year before I left,
they were nearly $130 billion.
The company went from a market value of $14 billion
to one of more than $410 billion
at the time of my retirement. (Point up)
Making it the most valuable
and largest company in the world
and I could not have done it without my coworkers,
What sets GE apart from the rest?
It is our culture that used diversity as a boundless source (Speed up)
of learning opportunities.
It is our culture that used the foundation of understanding
the organization’s ability to learn
and act fast giving us a competitive edge.
Warren Bennis believed that
a new leader has to be able to change an organization
that is dreamless, soulless and visionless.
Someone’s got to make a wakeup call. (Look around)
I was that someone.
I then pose the age old question,
Are leaders born or made?
I can only speak for myself.
Through my struggles,
and other experiences
plus throwing in formal education,
I transformed into a leader.
I initiated the opening up of a new world
within the organization.
My vision was shared (Point towards audience)
and became our vision leading to future successes.
My goal was to lead,
to create a vision and make people passionate
about their work.
By today’s ceremony,
I know I have succeeded.
I could not have accomplished
all that I did without everyone’s support.
Throughout our history
each of our leaders
has had a restless drive for a better GE.
And a better world.
And each has extended the company’s tradition
of leadership development
by encouraging the ingenuity of the people around.
I am proud to be added to the list of these great men of GE,
Charles A. Coffin, President, 1892 – 1912 and Chairman, 1913 – 1922. E. W. Rice, President 1913 – 1922. Gerard Swope, President 1942 – 1945 and
1922 –1940. Owen D. Young, Chairman 1942 – 1945, 1922 – 1940. Charles E. Wilson, President, 1945 – 1950 and 1940 -1942. Ralph J. Coriner,
Chairman and CEO, 1958 – 1963 and President, 1950 – 1958. Philip D. Reed, Chairman, 1945 -1958 and 1940 -1942. Fred J. Borch, Chairman and CEO,
1967 – 1972 and President and CEO, 1963 – 1967. Gerald L. Phillippe, Chairman, 1963 – 1967 and President, 1961 -1963.
Reginald H. Jones, Chairman and CEO, 1972 – 1981.
And then there was me.
My second goal was to be a teacher in a sense.
As the company moved forward,
everyone had proven an increased awareness.
Of what was right.
and even beautiful.
I had planted seeds
and watched them flourish.
I hope to have touched people’s lives
and elevated their needs for achievement
I ask you now,
what makes a great leader?
I believe that we need to do things
that build people’s self-confidence.
It’s all about praising others
and getting excited about their victories.
That’s what makes a great leader.
I personally got my first taste
from the scrappy,
aggressive kids in the neighborhood
playing endless games and sports.
I learned to exercise leadership,
and to be flexible.
The GE of the future
will be based on the cherished values that drive us today,
was simple then
and it is up to you to carry the torch to future greatness.
Strive for self-confidence, Strive to learn and Strive for a better future. (Point to audience)
Today, you bestowed upon me a title that will forever be close to my heart. As
we conclude this special occasion, a chance to glance back for a moment to see
the progression of GE, I have just six words to say. We’ve come a long way
baby! (Gesture thumbs up)