1. Act Like a Leader, Not a Manager
‘‘Find great ideas, exaggerate them, and spread them like hell around the business with the speed of light.’’
Main IdeaConventionally, business managers thought their prime role wasto supervise their employees. Jack Welch, by contrast, thinksbusiness leaders rather than business managers are required.A business leader is someone who inspires co-workers with avision of how to improve.Supporting IdeasEvery GE employee carries with them a values card whichoutlines the key values GE stands for. It reads:
GE Leaders...Always with Unyielding Integrity: Have a passion for excellence and hate bureaucracy Are open to ideas from anywhere and committed to work-out Live quality and drive cost and speed for competitive advantage Have the self-confidence to involve everyone and behave in a boundaryless fashion Create a clear, simple, reality-based vision and communicate it to all constituencies Have enormous energy and the ability to energize others Stretch, set aggressive goals and reward progress -- yet understand accountability and commitment See change as opportunity, not a threat Have global brains and build diverse and global teams.
The characteristics of good business leaders are:1.Leaders inspire their co-workers, thereby encouraging themto perform today at a higher level than they did yesterday.2.Leaders keep things simple by asking the right questionsfocusing on the key issues. At GE, Jack Welch asks thosesenior managers that report directly to him:1. Describe your global competitive environment.2. What have your competitors done in the last 3 years?3. In the same period, what have you done to them?4. How might they attack you in the future?5. What are your plans to leapfrog them?3.Leaders energize, excite and control using the company’svalues and cultures.4.Leaders face reality and then act decisively.5.Leaders are relentless and consistent, following through oneverything they do meticulously.6.Leaders love change, and try to consciously change thecompetitive environment by focusing on quality and service.7.Leaders deliver on their commitments.8.Leaders talk with their co-workers face-to-face, rather thantalking to one another or issuing memos.9.Leaders harp on about a few key themes every time theymeet with co-workers. They repeat the same message overand over.Key Thoughts
‘‘What sets GE apart is a culture that uses this wide diversity as a limitless source of learning opportunities, a storehouse of ideas whose breadth and richness is unmatched in world business. At the heart of this culture is an understanding that an organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive business advantage.’’
‘‘We might make a completely different decision about a deal we agreed on yesterday. or a program we started, in light of the changing environment of the last twenty-four hours. Jack is one of the few guys who’s not afraid to do that. In many organizations,the temptation is to drink your own bath water. In many organizations, the leader is afraid of going back on something,of giving the troops a direction that is different from what he said yesterday.’’
--W. James McNeery Jr.
‘‘We want to change the competitive landscape by being not just better than our competitors, but by taking quality to a whole new level. We want to make our quality so special, so valuable to our customers, so important to their success that our products become their only real value choice.’’
‘‘Some managers equate managing with sophistication, with sounding smarter than anyone else. They inspire no one. I dislike the traits that have come to be associated with managing -- controlling, stifling people, keeping them in the dark, wasting their time on trivia and reports. Breathing down their necks. You can’t manage self-confidence into people.’’
‘‘I have no idea how to produce a good television program and just as little about how to build an engine. But I do know who my boss at NBC is. And that is what matters. It is my job to choose the best people and to provide them with the dollars. My job is to understand the strategic issues within each of those businesses. I know the talent they need to win in those markets and the amount of capital they need. I make bets.’’
‘‘We have in the U.S. more than most countries have, and most countries want what we have. We care about the delivery of results. We have a high work ethic. We have a large country,natural resources, an open society that brought in all kinds of people, all races and creeds. We as business people have to maximize the opportunity for this country to provide great jobs and great lives and great educations for people.’’
‘‘In the twenty-first century would you rather be in toasters or CAT scanners?’’
‘‘I don’t say one thing to outsiders and another to insiders. If you have a simple, consistent message, and you keep on repeating it, eventually that’s what happens. Simplicity, consistency and repetition -- that’s how you get through. It’s a steady continuum that finally reaches critical mass. You don’t get anywhere if you keep changing your ideas. The only way to change people’s minds is with consistency. I haven’t changed a thing. The ideas were always the same. We’ve been talking about reality, agility,ownership and candor since the beginning. We just got it simpler and more carefully articulated over time.’’
Jack Welch and the GE Way - Page 2