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Jack Welch: The 4 Es Cheat Sheet by

jack     leadership     welch     4es


In this excerpt from Jack Welch's Winning, the former head of GE takes you through his 4-E (and 1-P) framework for hiring and promoting personnel.

"The 4-E framework took years for me to solidify. No doubt other people have other frameworks that work very well in building winning teams. But I've found this one was consis­tently effective, year after year, across businesses and border­s."

E-1: Positive Energy

This charac­ter­istic means the ability to thrive on action and relish change. People with positive energy are generally extrov­erted and optimi­stic. They make conver­sation and friends easily. They start the day with enthusiasm and usually end it that way too, rarely seeming to tire in the middle. They don't complain about working hard; they love to work.

They also love to play. People with positive energy just love life.

E-2: The ability to Energize others

Positive energy is the ability to get other people revved up. People who energize can inspire their team to take on the impossible — and enjoy the hell out of doing it. In fact, people would arm wrestle for the chance to work with them. Now, energizing others is not just about giving Patton­-esque speeches. It takes a deep knowledge of your business and strong persuasion skills to make a case that will galvanize others.

E-3: Edge, courage to make tough decisions

Look, the world is filled with gray. Anyone can look at an issue from every different angle. Some smart people can — and will — analyze angles indefi­nitely. But effective people know when to stop assessing and make a tough call, even without total inform­ation.

Little is worse than a manager at any level who can't cut bait, the type that always says, "­Bring it back in a month and we'll take a good, hard look at it again,­" or that awful type that says yes to you, but then someone else comes into the room and changes his mind. We called these wishy-­washy types "­las­t-o­ne-­out­-th­e-door bosses."

Some of the smartest people that I've hired over the years — many of them from consulting — had real difficulty with edge, especially when they were put into operat­ions. In every situation they always saw too many options, which inhibited them from taking action. That indeci­siv­eness kept their organi­zations in limbo. In the end, for several of them, that was a fatal flaw.

Welch 4Es of Leadership

E-4: Execution, ability to get the job done

Maybe this fourth E seems obvious, but for a few years, there were just the first three Es. Thinking these traits were more than suffic­ient, we evaluated hundreds of people and labeled a slew of them "­hig­h-p­ote­nti­als­," and moved many of them into managerial roles.

In that period, I traveled to personnel review sessions in the field with GE's head of HR, Bill Conaty. At the review sessions, we would refer to a single page that had each manager's photo on it, along with his or her boss's perfor­mance review and three circles, one for each E we were using at the time. Each one of these Es would be colored in to represent how well the individual was doing. For instance, a person could have half a circle of Energy, a full circle of Energize, and a quarter circle of Edge.


The final P: Passion

If a candidate has the four Es, then you look for that final P: Passion. By passion, I mean a heartfelt, deep, and authentic excitement about work. People with passion care — really care in their bones — about collea­gues, employees and friends winning. They love to learn and grow, and they get a huge kick when the people around them do the same.

The funny thing about people with passion, though, is that they aren't excited just about work. They tend to be passionate about everyt­hing. They're sports nuts or they're fanatical supporters of their alma mater or they're political junkies.

Whatever — they just have juice for life in their veins.

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