Jack Welch and Transformational Leadership

3422 words 14 pages

In 1981, 45-year-old Jack Welch became the eighth and youngest CEO in General Electric’s history. During his 20 years at the helm, Welch transformed the company from an aging industrial manufacturer into one of the world’s most competitive organisations, by building more shareholder wealth than any corporate chief in history. Time and again he reinvented the company, and time and again, his employees went along with it (Krames, 2002).

The paradigm of transformational leadership is useful in analysing how he was able to accomplish this (Dubrin, Dalglish & Miller, 2006). It is also useful in identifying the personal characteristics, the leader and follower values and the situational factors that contributed to his
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It involves change whereby followers participate in activities that are motivated by end values.

Transformational leadership has a lot in common with charismatic leadership, although charisma is only one part of transformational leadership. A critical concern for both theories involves what is referred to as the ‘dark-side’ of charisma – those charismatic leaders who inspire and lead followers to selfish, destructive and sometimes evil ends (Bass & Riggio, 2005). According to Bass (1998, as cited in Bass & Riggio, 2005), transformational leaders who work primarily towards personal gains as opposed to focusing also on the outcomes of followers are inauthentic transformational leaders. This is in contrast to authentic transformational leaders who transcend their own self interests for either utilitarian or moral reasons.

Transformational leaders display one or more of the following four personal characteristics (Dubrin et al., 2006; Bass & Riggio, 2005):

Idealised Influence
Transformational leaders are, above all, charismatic and behave in ways that allow them to serve as role models to their followers. They have vision and emphasise the importance of a collective sense of mission (Bass & Riggio, 2005). Followers identify with the leaders and as a result they have faith, pride, enthusiasm and trust in what they are trying to accomplish.

Inspirational motivation
According to Bass and Avolio (1994), transformational leaders motivate and inspire


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