Those who do not see the world as it is, but as it could be.
They don’t wish for things to be different; they make things different.
They change things.
They move the world forward.
They make progress happen.
Jack Welch is heralded as one of the greatest-ever corporate business leaders, not only because of his results—increasing GE’s value 4,000 percent under his 20-year leadership—but because of how he changed the game of business leadership.
“The Welch Way” is one of today’s most studied, talked about and emulated management and leadership philosophies.
As change-makers usually do, they don’t just affect change at the office; they inspire greatness in everyone around them, at all times.
Even with the lawn boy…
In 1969, 13-year-old Terry Holland knocked on Welch’s door in hopes of adding another client to his street lineup. “First off, Jack asked me, ‘How much money do you want to mow my lawn?’ ” Holland recalls. “I told him, ‘I really don’t give a price. I let people pay me whatever they think is fair.’
“So Jack started pointing around the neighborhood. He asked, ‘How much do you get for mowing that guy’s lawn?’ I told him three bucks. He pointed to another house. ‘How much do you get paid for his?’ ‘Three and a quarter.’ ‘I’ll tell you what,’ Jack said, ‘I’ll give you $4 to mow my lawn on one condition. I want my lawn to look better than any of theirs.’ ”
Young Terry accepted that condition. He did a good job on all his customers’ lawns. But Welch’s was different: The higher expectation brought with it a greater opportunity. Terry was on the constant lookout for ways to make Welch love the way his lawn looked. He experimented with new ways of cutting, trimming and sweeping.
“I guess maybe it’s a competitive thing that I have in me,” Holland says. “I enjoy doing stuff that there’s a reason to do. The time I spent cutting Jack’s lawn passed quicker for me than all the others. It gave me a chance to prove something to myself. There wasn’t the same drudgery that usually comes from mowing a lawn. It wasn’t mindless work. It was fun.”
Welch’s challenge not only ensured he got the neighborhood’s best-looking lawn; it called a teenager to greatness. It helped his lawn boy transcend the status quo, mediocrity or good work, and push for and pursue great work.
A few years later, the Welches moved out of the neighborhood. But the men’s story continued: When Holland needed a job referral, he reached out to Welch, who instantly recommended him for a position at GE.