Print This Post Print This Post

Dear Mr Welch:

I have never been very fond of you. It’s nothing personal. Over the years, I have admired your energy, your stamina, your drive and determination, the Attila the Hun inside of you. But over my business studies, I got tired of finding you in every single slide presentation and, not your fault, the MBA faculty using GE, which you headed at that time, to illustrate good management of normal companies. But GE was far from a normal company, not in statistical terms at least, nor in any other term. It felt like meeting the same guest over and over at all the dinners.

Also, you invented ‘contingency leadership’ (Ok, you never called it this perhaps), which has perpetuated the very dangerous ‘it depends’ phenomena: we treat people depending on circumstances. This is a recipe for the moral compass to get a bit stuck. Your (contingent) pragmatism is clear when you refer to ‘green products’ by saying that every business must embrace green products and green ways of doing business, ‘whether you believe in global warming or not…because the world wants these products’. So if people did not want green products, that would change the plans, right? I think, in fact, that you invented the word ‘contingent’ but now I am off track.

You recently published in Linkedin ‘ 10 Leadership Lessons You Don’t Want to Learn the Hard Way’. Good read. 4 million followers in LinkedIn allows you to say that the world is round and get 3000 likes, a quarter of a million views and 500 comments. Good for you! However, I’d like to add a line or two to your 10 points, if I may.

 ‘Your company’s values and your personal values must be compatible’.

Question is, who defines those values and how they are articulated? I wish you could say more, because, as it is, it tells me that as long as the company lists integrity as a value, and I am OK with that, we all are OK. Mmm, why does the word Enron come to my mind?

 ‘Differentiation breeds meritocracy. Sameness breeds mediocrity’.

Agree. For differentiation, did you mean diversity of ideas as well?

‘In a performance culture, actions have to have consequences — positive or negative’.

I read between the lines that your eyes are on the ‘negative consequences’. After all, you were very good at getting rid of the bottom 10% of employees every year as a consequence of being in the bottom 10%. Agree however that dealing with bad performance and having difficult conversations is something still missing in many organizations. My problem is your Bell Curve, mathematic solution of letting go the 10% at the bottom, something that did spread in copycat mode through the business world, with zero critical thinking attached.

‘Creating an environment of candour and trust is a must’.

Agree. Although ‘candour’ is one of these terms that when coming from American managers one has to be careful and ask many times for its meaning. Its not a term of equal semantic value across cultures.

‘Attracting, developing and retaining world-class talent is your never-ending job’.

Question: So, if somebody is already a world-class talent, do you develop him or does he develop you?

 ‘You must distinguish between coachable development needs in your people and fatal flaws’.

And who defines what a fatal flaw is? Management? Would then management be free of fatal flaws?

 ‘Simple, consistent, focused communications travel faster and are understood better by the organization’.


 ‘There is nothing more developmental and illuminating than dealing with adversity’.

So say the many thousands of people you fired? A hundred thousand? Something like that. That was the time you were called Neutron Jack (buildings left intact, otherwise fatalities).

 ‘Over time, you have to develop a real generosity gene — and love to see each person on your team earn raises, get promotions and grow personally’.

I take note of your ‘over time’, that is, don’t rush into it, take your time, generosity will come at some point, right? What timeframe do you have in mind to develop generosity?

‘Continuous learning is critical for success — make it a priority’.

Yeap. And Un-learning is even better (as your successors in GE have implemented).

I even read lots of what you say, now that you are not on the MBA slides. Mind you, you now run an MBA-sort-of- school. Mmm.

Keep up with the Daily Thoughts

Twitter Email


  1. Jose D'Alessandro

    Leandro, in case you don’t know, you are a genius.
    The Welch’s crap and all the me-too thinking that periodically floods American (and not only) companies always made me sick, but never stopped me from trying thinking with my own head.
    Thanks for reminding how important it is.

    • Leandro Herrero

      Jose. I am far from it. Just blessed perhaps with high level antibodies against certain types of Gods. And writing about it keeps my levels active, I guess. And very happy New Year my friend!

Would you like to comment?

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

To search my website, please use the form below.

  Daily Thoughts

September 27th, 2023

Redefining Talent Wealth

The war on talent McKinsey consultants started it with a book of the same title. By focusing on what it […]

September 8th, 2023

What I Learnt From The Monks: A Little Anthropology Of Leadership And Space On One Page

My friends, monks of a Benedictine monastery in the Highlands, Scotland, spend most of the time in silence. I mean, […]

August 23rd, 2023

Can We Rescue DEI From Its Trap (The Label)?

Most of the problems and challenges in organizations, together with most of the solutions, are behavioural in nature. It’s about […]

August 10th, 2023

Restructuring to force collaboration, is likely to create more anxiety than collaboration. Structural solutions for behavioural problems hardly work.

Sometimes restructuring is done with the intention of solving a collaboration problem. ´A people´ don’t talk to ´B people´; if […]

July 18th, 2023

The ‘Impossible To Disagree With’ School Of Management

‘Good leaders have empathy, respect employees and set the example. If you want to change things, you need to have […]

June 29th, 2023

Large scale change is not small scale change repeated many times. Small wins repeated are lots of small wins.

Large scale change, as a series of cascading small scale interventions (often under the philosophy of ‘small wins’) has dominated […]

June 6th, 2023

Culture change is not long and difficult. But we make it so…

I suppose the question is how long is long and how difficult is difficult? In general, business and organizational consulting have […]

May 19th, 2023

Value is an overused term in business and, as such, it’s becoming meaningless

Value, as usually used, means transactional monetary value. Usually it doesn’t mean intrinsic value, or value per se. For example, […]

May 4th, 2023

The importance of ‘critical thinking.’ Your own critical thinking is more effective at making your workplace better than any generic employee survey.

Build your own Employee Engagement argument for free. You can’t go wrong. Here are three baskets full of concepts: Basket […]

April 21st, 2023

´Busy-Ness’ Is A Trap

I went to a big conference where I was introduced by the chairman like this: “Welcome everybody. Lovely to have […]

April 14th, 2023

Training and culture change. The love affair that ends in tears.

It seems to be very hard for people to get away from the idea that if we just put individuals […]

April 11th, 2023

Teamocracies and Networkracies have different citizens: in-Habitants in team-work, riders in net-work

The old view of the organization is something close to the old concept of a medieval city, where citizenship was […]

April 5th, 2023

3 Ways To Get Approval From Your CEO Or Your Leadership Team

Way number 1: My team has developed these three options, A, B and C. Which one do you want us […]

March 29th, 2023

A Cheat Sheet To Create A Social Movement Tip = to shape organizational culture since both are the same.

Mobilizing people. This is another of the Holy Grails (how many have I said we have?) in management. Whether you […]

March 16th, 2023

Critical Thinking Self-Test: A 10 Point Health Check For Your Organization And Yourself. If any of these are a good picture of your organization, you need to put ‘critical thinking’ in the water supply.

Test yourself, and your organization. Do any of these apply? Doing lots, too fast without thinking. High adrenaline, not sure […]

March 9th, 2023

A culture of safety or a culture of training in safety?

Cultures are created by behaviours becoming the norm. Safety is at the core of many industries. Significant budgets are allocated […]

March 2nd, 2023

Empowerment is an output. If you can visualize it, you can craft it.

The real question is, what do you want to see happening so that you can say ‘people are empowered’? Employee […]

February 24th, 2023

A simple question will jumpstart your organization into change. It will also save you from months of pain spent reorganizing your people and teams.

The following line will short-cut months of (building) ‘alignment’, integration, reorganization, team building, coalition building, and any situation in which Peter, […]

February 20th, 2023

Lead Via Peer-To-Peer Networks – If you don’t lead via peer-to-peer networks, you’re only driving your car in first gear.

Peer-to-peer work, transversal, spontaneous or not, collaboration, peer-to-peer influence, peer-to-peer activities of Viral Change™ champions or activists, all of this is the […]

February 7th, 2023

Write a script, not a strategic plan

If you care about the journey and the place, you need a story. If you have a good, compelling one, […]

January 26th, 2023

3 self-sabotaging mechanisms in organizations

Organizations, like organisms, have embedded mechanisms of survival, of growth and also of self-sabotage. These are 3 self-sabotage systems to […]

January 10th, 2023

Who should be involved in culture change? All inclusive versus going where the energy is.

Many times, in my consulting work, I find myself facing a dilemma: Do I involve many people on the client’s […]

December 23rd, 2022

Tell what won’t change – Introducing 1 of my 40 rules of change

In any change programme that any organization wants to start, they will start by thinking of the things that they […]

December 16th, 2022

Scale It – Introducing 1 of my 40 rules of change

When creating effective change in any organization, there are 40 rules that, in my experience, are the key between success […]

December 5th, 2022

Assets & Strengths Base – Introducing 1 of my 40 rules of change

For more than 30 years I have been involved in ‘change’ in organizations. Again and again, some fundamental principles, and often […]

November 25th, 2022

Campaign It… is 1 of my 40 rules of change

When you filter out the noise, when you try to extract the core, the fundamentals, those ‘universal rules’ of change […]

October 31st, 2022

Hybrid or not hybrid? That’s not the question…

Culture is the new workplace If you want to have a conversation about the future of work, the nature of […]

October 24th, 2022

‘Powered by Viral Change™’: A Social Transformation Platform for the organization of the 21st Century

When we started to work on Viral Change™, as a way to create large scale behavioural and cultural change, and […]

October 14th, 2022

Corporate tribes, intellectual ghettos and open window policies

We talk a lot about silos in organizations usually in the context of Business Units or divisions. But these are not […]

October 7th, 2022

Peer Networks are the strongest force of action inside the organization

Peer-to-peer works, transversal, spontaneous or not, collaboration, peer-to-peer influence, peer-to-peer activities of Viral Change™ champions or activists, all of this is […]