Jack Welch is one of the most successful business leaders in the world. He spent 40 years at General Electric. He retired in 2001 after spending 21 years as chairman and chief executive officer. His nickname at GE was Neutron Jack, because of the fact that 118,000 people left the company in his first 5 years at chief executive officer. Since he retired from General Electric in 2001, he has traveled the world giving speeches and lectures to business audiences. In his book, Winning, Jack Welch tells his story on how to win in business.
Jack Welch wrote Winning after speaking to audiences all over the world. He summarizes the most frequently asked questions he has received over the years. The book is broken out into 5 main sections; Underneath It All, Your Company, Your Competition, Your Career, and Tying Up Loose Ends.
In the first section, Underneath It All, Jack Welch talks about mission and values, candor, differentiation, and voice and dignity. Throughout his book, he talks about how other companies operate. One of them is Bank One. One of their values is “We treat customers the way we would want to be treated.”
They identified some behaviors that made the value come to life. Some of them are: •Never let profit center conflicts get in the way of doing what is right for the customer. •Give customers a good, fair deal. Great customer relationships take time. Do not try to maximize short-term profits at the expense of building those enduring relationships. •Always look for ways to make it easier to do business with us. •Communicate daily with your customers. If they are talking about you, they can’t be talking to a competitor. •Don’t forget to say thank you.
By following these behaviors Bank One was able to achieve their values. Jack believes “the biggest dirty little secret in business” is lack of candor. Lack of candor blocks ideas, fast action, and good people contributing all they’ve got. When people have candor everything operates faster and better.
Differentiation is another area where Jack says companies can succeed. It is a way to manage people and businesses. Our textbook talks about differentiation strategy where a company attempts to be unique in its industry or market segment along some dimensions that customers value. It also talks about differentiation created through division of labor and job specialization. Division of labor means that the work of the organization is subdivided into smaller tasks. Various individuals and units throughout the organization perform different tasks. Specialization refers to the fact that different people or groups often perform specific parts of the entire task.
The last part in Underneath It All Jack talks about voice and dignity. People want the opportunity to speak their minds and have their ideas heard. People also inherently and instinctively want to be respected for their work and effort individually. Some people have better ideas than others, and some people are smarter or more experienced. But everyone should be heard and respected.
The next section in his book Jack talks about is Your Company. This includes leadership, hiring, people management, parting ways, change, and crisis management. “When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.” There are many ways to be a leader. Jack Welch has 8 leadership “rules.” They are: 1. Leaders relentlessly upgrade their team, using every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach, and build self confidence.
2. Leaders make sure people not only see the vision, they live and breathe it. 3. Leaders get into everyone’s skin, exuding positive energy and optimism. 4. Leaders establish trust with candor, transparency, and credit. 5. Leaders have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls. 6. Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders on skepticism, making sure their questions are answered with action. 7. Leaders inspire risk taking and learning by setting the example. 8. Leaders celebrate.
Being a leader is challenging. Leading a team to accomplish your mission is like a balancing act. There are all kinds of good leaders, and all of them are different.
The next chapter is hiring. What makes an applicant a good choice to hire? There are several but some of the most important ones are integrity, intelligence, and maturity. Jack has a “framework” for hiring; what he calls the 4-E and 1-P. They are energy, ability to energize others, edge, execute, and passion.
After hiring is people management. Managing people was what Jack did during most of his 40 years at GE, and he did so successfully. One of the most important parts of managing people is a good evaluation system. An evaluation system should be clear and simple, and should be done at least once a year. A good evaluations system should also include professional development. An inevitable part of people management is parting ways. There are 3 main reasons for letting people go; firings for integrity violations, layoffs due to economic downturns, and firings for nonperformance.
Another big part of Your Company is change. Change is a critical part of any business. A lot of people try to resist change and Jack believes you have to get rid of those resisters. Not all change is good though. That’s where crisis management comes in. When a crisis does come you have to realize that the flames will eventually die down, you just have to get through the heat of the moment. You need to stay calm and the crisis will pass.
In Your Career, Jack talks about finding the right job, getting promoted, hard spots, and work-life balance. Finding the right job is not easy. You have to consider pay, the people you will work with, opportunity, and options. Not many people stay at the same job their entire career. Getting promoted is not easy. Jack has a list of things to do that will help. They are: •Getting great results while expanding your job’s horizons.
•Not using up your boss’s capital. •Manage your relationships with your subordinates with the same carefulness that you manage the one with your boss. •Get on the radar screen by being an early champion of your company’s major projects or initiatives. •Search out and relish the input of lots of mentors, realizing that mentors don’t always look like mentors. •Have a positive attitude and spread it around.
Works CitedWelch, Jack. Winning. New York, NY: HarperCollins Publishers, Inc.,2005.