During the 80s in the US, I had the pleasure of working with a truly inspiring leader, Jack Welch of GE. Jack was a big fan of XIO Thinking and cvs2bvs which he called, “The simplest idea in the world”.

When I was designing GE XIO, an enterprise solution on innovation thinking for GE over several years, I had a range of different discussions with the great business leader. In one discussion, as I often do, I raised Gallup’s controversial view on leaders and their reluctance for change. I was a little surprised when Jack enthusiastically agreed with this view which he called “the paradox of enterprise leadership”.

His paradox was as follows: on the one hand it is broadly agreed that an enterprise needs to change and to adapt in order to survive and grow but on the other hand individual leaders at any particular time are reluctant to change.

As evidence of this paradox Jack then revealed a startling admission. He confided that, “During my career at GE I had to hide on the way up all of the change and innovation skills I really needed to use when I became the boss”.

History records that Jack, as the leader of GE, went on to multiply his business by 4000%!!

4 thoughts on “WELCH: on the paradox of enterprise leadership

  1. Jack did not climb the ladder just to be the boss or make the big bucks, it appears that he has a drive to continually grow and create new and exciting products from household to the global industry of big business. Jack uses his energy to its fullest. He is a great example of keeping your business at the top and not resting on past success.

  2. He must have been pretty special. And very rare. Every now and then someone like this comes along. Jack was obviously good for General Electric!

  3. I can understand our situation in Africa. I have been reading alot on Jack Welch for a while but surprise I do not come across something like this.Thank you Michael the insight is great..

  4. You have to feel sorry for those whom have great innovative ideas and can’t get them going in the real world due to the prejudices of bankers accountants, business coaches etc.

    Jack is to be admired for keeping his eyes on the main prize all the way up and he must have enjoyed the fun of implementing it when he finally got there and got the tidal wave of change happening.

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