Jack Welch (1935) has been one of the most acclaimed managers of the last decades. He joined General Electric (GE) in 1960, and in 1981 became the company’s eighth CEO. During his tenure, the company’s profits totaled $ 400 billion, making GE one of the largest and most admired companies in the world. He was elected the best executive of the 20th century on several occasions. Jack Welch currently advises businesses through his own company. He is the author of several company books, such as Talking Clear and Winning: the keys to the success of the most admired executive .
- If you don’t have anything different, don’t compete.
Success always comes from difference, therefore, the first question that every company must ask is: what do I have that others do not have. It can be what you offer, how you offer it, what you make you feel or even your ability to be noticeable and have visibility. In any case, if you don’t have something that differentiates you, your chances of success are very limited. And you will be average. You will be one more.
- Face reality as it is, not as it was or however you are.
One of the defining traits of great leaders is that they don’t deny reality. They want to know what is happening and quickly, because then they can take action to set the course. We often disguise reality as childish justifications and excuses in order not to take responsibility or hope that things will get better over time. But things don’t get better if you don’t improve. What’s more, they tend to get worse.
- People who lie are just weak. Tell your employees the truth, because they know the truth anyway.
Confronting conflicts openly defines the leader. Honesty, although sometimes stinging, builds credibility. “Leaders,” says Welch, “build trust with their honesty and transparency. Be honest with everyone in the company. ” Denying conflict or fleeing from it is typical of insecure personalities who are the least fit to occupy a leadership position. Conflicts are not a dish of good taste for anyone, but turning a blind eye when they arise magnifies them. Avoiding them portrays us as people. Life is a continuous conflict (with suppliers, clients, employees or the rest of the stakeholders ), and success is in its management. Well managed, conflicts help you grow.
- Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing time. Action with vision is making a positive difference.
First: vision without execution is hallucination. Vision (motivating, challenging, stimulating) is what allows us to get going, but it is action that executes and turns dreams into reality. Second: the action has to have a meaning and a logic, otherwise one spends the day beating around the bush here and there and walks like a headless chicken. In short, people need inspirational and directional goals as a starting point, but true leadership is always in action.
- If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more, and be better, you are a leader.
Every person who deserves the qualification of leader has to be inspiring, he has to awaken among his people the spirit of growing, improving, evolving. Leading is inspiring others to become who they want to be. A leader cannot be a sad, dull, or gray person. Great leaders make others feel great and important too. All progress made by humanity has always been stimulated by people who have known how to sell an “exciting future.” Welch himself notes: «The world will be one of passionate and driven leaders; people who not only have a huge amount of power, but can provide it to those they drive.
- When the rate of change outside the company exceeds the rate of change within the company, the end is near.
The fundamental difference between a leader and a manager lies in how you manage change. And if there is something essential in change management, it is agility and speed of response to environmental movements. It is important that organizations have structures that facilitate quick decision-making and execution. Although not always, it happens very often that whoever gives first gives twice. Acting quickly in the face of market changes usually yields juicy returns. Jack Welch used to say, “An organization’s ability to learn and quickly turn learning into action is its greatest competitive advantage. The bureaucracy is the Dracula of the company. Leading companies are proactive, never reactive.
- Quality is our best guarantee of customer loyalty, our strongest defense against competition, and the only path to growth and profit.
The more quality, the less competition; the more quality, the more loyalty from customers; the more quality, the more benefits. Having as an obsession to add value and to continuously improve are traits that define winning companies, those that survive over the years. It has been said on occasion that quality is remembered long after price is forgotten, and this is often the case. Steve Jobs, who has his own chapter in this book, said when referring to Apple: “We started with an idealistic way of looking at things: doing something with the highest quality and doing it right the first time would actually be cheaper than having to go back To do it”.
- The three most important things that need to be measured in a business are: customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction, and cash flow .
Welch himself explains it: “Customer satisfaction leads to increased market share; employee satisfaction results in productivity, creativity, quality and pride; and cash flow is the vital sign of the company ”. The analysis is clear. First, without customers, there are no sales, and without sales, you don’t eat. Every organization should be concerned with having a strong customer orientation. Second, the best organizations are people-oriented. More satisfied employees, happier employees; And it is common sense that this redounds to greater benefits across the board. And finally, you have to take care of the liquidity box. Many companies do not die because they are not or cannot be profitable, but because they cannot meet their financial obligations.
- Above all else, good leaders are open. They go up and down, circling every corner of their organizations to reach people. They don’t stay on established channels. They are informal. They are direct with people. They make being accessible become a religion for them.
You cannot be a leader from a distance, between four walls, installed in the office without contact with people, stuck in the cave. Leadership is a contact sport. The leader is permanently around his team, inspiring it, sharing his vision and his projects, asking for opinion and contrasting it with his. Good or bad communication is what makes personal relationships flow or become encrusted. Without communication there is no leadership. For this reason, a manager must not only be accessible, but must be the one who accesses his people. If the dialogue does not arise, it is forced to generate it.
- Insecure managers create complexity. Frightened and nervous managers use very thick and complicated planning books, and slides full of everything they have learned since childhood. Real leaders don’t need to confuse.
People need to have clear references on what is the general strategy of the company, know why things are done and what is their role within it. This greatly facilitates involvement and commitment, otherwise, one feels like one more piece of an assembly line and discouragement ends up emerging. For this, as we have just pointed out, communication plays an essential role; When communicating, it is vital to be very pedagogical, and pedagogy is always linked to simplicity. Welch sums it up nicely: “It’s amazing how difficult it is for people to be simple; how scary it is to be simple. People worry that if they are simple, others may think they are dumb. Actually, of course, it’s just the other way around. People with the clearest and most prepared mind are the simplest.