Jack Welch On Successful Leadership

Jack Welch On Successful Leadership

Jack Welch was the Chairman and CEO of General Electric from 1981 to 2001. During Welch’s tenure at General Electric, the company’s value increased 4000% and produced multiple executives that became Fortune 500 CEOs. Below are the Six Rules for Successful Leadership outlined in his book, Straight from the Gut (Warner Business Books, 2001). Whether you are leading a large company or startup, the six rules apply. They are:

1 – Be candid with everyone.
Leaders have an obligation to tell people how they are doing and where they stand. Not being clear and upfront about performance is unfair. When leaders are candid with people, candor will be returned to them. Once mixed messages are eliminated, people become faster, more creative and more energetic.

2 – Change before you have to.
Leaders who create change make it personal. People change when they see how it will improve the company and more importantly, their lives. Leaders must embrace and reinforce constant change and reinvention within the company. If the outside world is changing faster than the people on the inside, the company is falling behind.

3 – Control your destiny or someone else will.
Winning businesses are number one or two in their markets. Number one and two can defend market share with innovation and pricing while others cannot. Others also suffer more during downturns. Why sell a profitable third place business?  When number one sneezes, it will get pneumonia. First place businesses control their destiny.

4 – Do not manage, lead.
Leaders touch the hearts and minds of people to help them grow and thrive. They walk around with a can of fertilizer in one hand and a jug of water in the other. They continually pour fertilizer and water on flowers (people) in the garden (business). Some will grow. Some will have to be cut out. Give everyone a chance to flourish.

5 – Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish it were.
Values are descriptive behaviors. Because values, not objectives, ultimately define what an organization and people become, leaders must constantly explain and model them. For example, facing reality as it is, not as it was or you wish it were was a key value at GE. If people could not face reality, they had to go.

6 – If you do not have a competitive advantage, do not compete.
If you are not better than the best in what you are doing, in both people and product, define what resources you need to get there and go after it or disengage. Wake up every day knowing that someone, somewhere is doing something better than you. Leaders must instill in others to always find a better way, every day.

All contents copyright © 2014, Josh Lowry. All rights reserved.

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