Thursday, October 7, 2010


One of the highlights of the World Business Forum (WBF), held Oct. 5 and 6 in Radio City Music Hall in New York, was hearing Jack Welch. The plain-spoken, hard-driving former CEO of GE has been named by many as the world's greatest business leader.

If I thought I could guess what Welch was going to say, I was wrong. Here’s what the man who was nicknamed “Neutron Jack” for slashing jobs at GE in the early 1980s had to say about leading through intimidation. “Fear is a dead issue for a leader … It was never very good – but it worked for a while.”

He also lamented the “tragic lack” of leadership development in corporate America: There’s a lot of “huffing and puffing” going on about developing leaders at conferences like WBF, “but back in the office, there ain’t that much going on.”

Welch, who is 75, is a fan of Twitter. “I think it’s fun. It’s good for getting out a message.” He’s also in favor of the increased transparency that the Internet and technology has helped create. “It’s so exciting to see everybody know everything,” he said. “A more open society, and more candor can only be good.”

Nothing if not candid, Welch had harsh words for President Obama’s 2009 criticism of corporate travel to Las Vegas. Here's Welch: "Conventions are the rhythm of business.”

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