The transformational leader as pedagogue, physician, architect, commander, and saint: five root metaphors in Jack Welch’s letters to stockholders of General Electric

Amernic, Joel, Craig, Russell and Tourish, Dennis (2007) The transformational leader as pedagogue, physician, architect, commander, and saint: five root metaphors in Jack Welch’s letters to stockholders of General Electric. Human Relations, 60 (12). pp. 1839-1872. ISSN 0018-7267

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Abstract

We analyse the corpus of CEO letters to stockholders that were signed by a widely revered business leader, Jack Welch, during his tenure as CEO of the General Electric Company [GE], 1981–2000. Our discussion is located within theory pertaining to transformational leadership. We examine Welch’s language from the standpoint of how transformational leadership can be conceived as a rhetorical artefact of one-sided dialogue emanating from a powerful leader. We give particular attention to the saturation of Welch’s discourse with metaphors, and argue that metaphors illuminate how transformational leadership and the accompanying construct of charisma manifest themselves in practice. Five root metaphors that heightened Welch’s persuasive and rhetorical impact on his audience are identified and discussed: Welch as pedagogue, physician, architect, commander and saint. We advocate greater awareness of the rhetorical techniques employed by transformational leaders in attempts to broker compliance with their views.

Item Type: Article
Schools and Departments: School of Business, Management and Economics > Business and Management
Depositing User: Stacey Goldup
Date Deposited: 13 Jun 2017 06:05
Last Modified: 13 Jun 2017 06:05
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/68500
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