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Jack Welch’s Three Advices on Leadership – Purpose, Generosity and Fun

There is plenty of advice on leadership. However, few are as concise and authentic as those of Jack Welch, General Electric’s long-standing and extraordinarily successful CEO. For him, leadership means firstly giving meaning and orientation to people’s work and then ensuring that people can work on it as unhindered as possible. Second, good leadership is generous in making others successful without envy. And finally, good leadership serves people and gives them joy and fulfillment: “Be the Chief Fun Officer!”

Leadership, very simply, is about two things: 1) Truth and trust. 2) Ceaselessly seeking the former, relentlessly building the latter.
Jack Welch

Leadership provides orientation by offering an understandable and attractive purpose to which the individual can connect in order to make an intrinsically motivated contribution. It is all about being “Chief Meaning Officer” and communicating clearly what the vision is, what its purpose is and what it means for each individual (Jack Welch). Good leadership starts with purpose and trust and works with intention rather than instruction.

Before you become a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader success is all about growing others.
Jack Welch

Leadership is about making others successful. Good leadership is generous. It serves life and is service, not privilege. Its goal is to develop potential instead of exploiting resources. That is precisely why the first thesis of the Manifesto for Human Leadership says “Unleashing human potential over employing human resources” and further on “Purpose and trust over command and control.”

Giving people self-confidence is by far the most important thing that I can do. Because then they will act.
Jack Welch

Work takes up a large part of our time. It is all the more saddening when studies such as the Gallup Engagement Index find year after year that 50% of the American workforce are not engaged and 16% are actively disengaged. This engagement of course hinges on a shared purpose and vision. On the way to this goal, however, we can and must celebrate joint successes and draw strength from this joy together. That’s the point of Jack Welch’s claim that good leader also need to be the “Chief Fun Officer”. But now the unabridged advice of Jack Welch in his own words:

New: The Book on the Manifesto for Human(e) Leadership

On the occasion of the first anniversary I published a detailed version of the Manifesto for Human(e) Leadership on Leanpub. I am looking forward to feedback and impulses on the one hand and, of course, to broad dissemination on the other. Please spread the word!

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Filed under: Leadership


Hi, I'm Marcus. I'm convinced that elephants can dance. Therefore, I accompany organizations on their way towards a more agile way of working. Since 2010 I regularly write about leadership, digitization, new work, agility, and much more in this blog. More about me.

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