But I’m going to suggest something that most leadership gurus probably think is blasphemy. I’m going to suggest Jack Welch really shouldn’t be help up as a great business leader. Eighteen years after his retirement as CEO, General Electric is deep in dept, selling off assets left, right and center, and recently, the company has sunk to new lows and is struggling to stay afloat. What would have been unthinkable during Jack Welch’s time is actually a possibility – there's talk of delisting General Electrics altogether. In fact, the 125-year-old company might go into bankruptcy.
Jim Collins, author of the book 'Good to Great', defines a great leader as someone who is completely selfless, building up systems to ensure that the company lasts past his or her tenor. Unfortunately Jack Welch’s systems are already crumbling.
If there is one thing that Jack Welch can be faulted for it is reaching too far, stretching beyond the company’s means. Jack Welch reminds me of the fable that Stephen Covey wrote about in his famous book, ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”– the goose and the golden egg. In the fable, the boy finds a goose who lays a golden egg each day. He wants to increase production of golden eggs so he kills the goose. Jack Welch increased the company’s stock value exponentially, but in doing so did he end up killing the goose?
In 2011 GE ranked among the top 14 most profitable companies but since then it has severely underperformed in the market. In 2017, GE has reported losses of about $6.2 billion. As of October 2018, John L. Flannery was replaced by H. Lawrence Culp Jr as CEO in hopes of turning things around.