The Ingredients to Great Leadership: 4Es and a P

The Ingredients to Great Leadership: 4Es and a P

Anyone can lead. But not everyone is a great leader.

Just ask Jack Welch, one of the world’s most respected and celebrated business leaders of all time who Forbes Magazine coined the “CEO of CEOs.” Under his leadership as chairman and CEO of General Electric between 1981 and 2001, the company’s value rose 4,000%. And during that time, Jack built one of the most successful Human Resource departments the world has ever seen. He used a very “simple” framework to evaluate talent; a framework still being used today based on the following five traits: energy, an ability to energize, edge, an ability to execute and passion—more commonly referred to as the “4Es and a P” of leadership.

And while the traits individually may be straightforward enough, it took Jack and his team years to solidify the framework that has proven “to be consistently effective year after year across various types of businesses” as managers evaluate employees and their potential.

The backbone of the 4Es and a P framework:


“Energy is the ability to go, go, go–to thrive on action and relish change. People with positive energy are generally extroverted and optimistic. They make conversation and friends easily. They’re people who don’t complain about working hard–they love to work. They also love to play and overall just love life.”

Ask yourself:

Do I bring energy as a manager to my team every day, all day?



“This is the ability to get others revved up. People who energize can inspire their team to take on the impossible–and enjoy doing it. The ability to energize is apparent in someone with an in-depth knowledge of their business, who sets a powerful personal example, and has strong persuasion skills.”

Ask yourself:

Do people want to work for me?


“Having edge means having the courage to make tough “yes or no” decisions. Smart people can assess a situation from every angle–but smart people with edge know when to stop assessing and make a tough call, even without all the information.”

Ask yourself:

Do I know when to make the gut call?


“Being able to execute means having the ability to get the job done. It turns out a person can have positive energy, energize everyone around them, make hard calls, and still not get over the finish line. Being able to execute is a unique and distinct skill. It means the person knows how to put decisions into action and push them forward to completion, through resistance, chaos, or unexpected obstacles. People who can execute know that winning is about results.”

Ask yourself:

Do I continually drive results both personally and for my team?



“People with passion have a heartfelt, deep, authentic excitement about work. They care–really care in their bones–about colleagues, employees, and friends. They love to learn and grow, and they get a huge kick out of people around them doing the same.”

Ask yourself:

Do I bring an intense enthusiasm towards all aspects of my life?

The 4Es and a P framework isn’t just a valuable tool for managers looking to evaluate a member of the team, or for managers looking to assess their own style of leadership. The framework can and should also be used by candidates seeking positions within an organization. Understanding the traits hiring managers are looking for will help job seekers rise to the top during the job consideration phase. Sure, any job seeker will also need to possess the specific skills required for the career, but when there are so many skilled candidates in consideration for a position the 4Es, and a P framework is a valuable tool to master to stand apart.


To learn more about how to become a better leader, advance your career and grow a winning team utilizing the 4Es and P framework, click here.



Welch, J. & Welch, S., 2005. Winning. 1st ed. United States: HarperCollins Publisher.


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