Jack Welch on getting $#!* done!
Another ThoughtStarter from Polar Unlimited.
“The team with the
best players wins.”
Jack Welch on getting $#!* done!
We’ve been talking a lot lately about the #1 core competency for today’s brands — getting
$#!* done (aka doing what you say you are going to do). You simply CANNOT have a
successful brand without it.
If you talk to Roger Martin, the Dean of the Rotman School of Business, he’ll tell you that
studying the great business leaders of our time (like Jack Welch and Larry Bossidy) probably
isn’t going to set you up for success in our brave new world.
We would agree. But we would add that there is still a lot to learn from those leaders. And
if getting $#!* done is important to YOUR success, here are a few tips from the man who
wrote the book on it. Whether you are a leader or an aspiring leader, you’ll find some great
nuggets from Jack Welch’s 8 rules for leaders. We’ve humbly added our own thoughts to his
8 rules. We hope you enjoy.
Leaders relentless upgrade their team, using every encounter
as an opportunity to evaluate, coach and build self-confidence.
GE is well-known for their bench strength. In fact, many leaders leave GE to run other
companies when it becomes clear that they won’t be making it to top-cheese at GE. Jack
was also known for 70-20-10 rule that clearly differentiates amongst employees. The middle
70% are the “lifeblood” of the organization and need to be treated well. The bottom 10%
are the group that just won’t be cutting it, and they need to be let go. The top 20% are your
“stars” and they need to be treated differently than your middle 70% — with bonuses, salary,
and coaching time. SO, use every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate and coach, but
remember that some people should be getting extra coaching and encouragement, and
some people just shouldn’t be at your organization.
When was the last time you upgraded your team?
Leaders make sure people not only see the vision, they live and breathe it.
Jack was known for talking about the vision with each of his employees to the point of
getting sick of it. This of course assumes that you have a vision worth getting excited about!
But once you have that, talk about it and display it every chance you get. Speak about it in
language that truly connects with the person you are talking to — front-line employees are
very likely to connect with something very different than your VP of Finance.
If you are sick of talking about your vision for the organization, you are probably on the right track.
Leaders get into everyone’s skin, exuding positive energy and optimism
Jack was known for walking the halls of GE, nervously chewing on multiple pieces of gum
and displaying the energy and drive he is known for. He realized that he needed to get
under everyone’s skin (except the bottom 10 of course) and was always pushing his people
to new heights.
Jack realized one important thing that every leader needs to realize — that you are on a stage
everyday. Your employees watch your every move, down to your tone of voice and your body
language. So pay attention not only to what you are saying, but also how you are saying it.
You can’t possibly get under everyone’s skin without it.
Leaders establish trust with candor, transparency and credit.
Trust is critical to a leaders success. Jack knew that there are 3 things that every leader needs
to master to earn that trust. Not everybody liked Jack, but everybody respected and trusted him.
Jack likes to say that candor is a dirty word in business. He single-handedly changed the
culture of GE during his time there by doing one thing — speaking his mind. You never had
to wonder what Jack thought of you.
Jack knew that by speaking his mind, AND by letting his employees know what was going
on in the company that he could build transparency. In the absence of information, your
employees will start making stuff up. And most of the time it’s not going to be good.
Finally, Jack is one of those rare breeds that gave credit where credit was due. Jack always
praised the people who did well and let everybody know how well his team was doing.
When was the last time you said it like it is?
Leaders have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls.
Jack knew that being a leader is not a popularity contest. Far from it. He often had to make
unpopular decisions like closing plants that would affect the lives of thousands. Sure these
decisions were made based on data and analysis — but they were almost never made with
perfect information. This highlights an important trait in a leader — the ability to take action
and make decisions in situations that are very difficult and uncomfortable.
What decisions should you be making today that you’d rather push off to tomorrow?
Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders on scepticism,
making sure their questions are answered with action.
Jack liked to say that he wasn’t afraid of acting like the dumbest guy in the room. What did he
mean by that? It meant that if he didn’t understand something, he would ask about it rather
than try to retain the appearance of knowing everything. He demanded that people would
back things up with sound logical reasoning and would push people to prove their ideas.
And questions needed to be answered with action — meaning if there wasn’t a good answer
to one of his questions, then there would have to be VERY SOON.
When was the last time you acted like the dumbest guy in the room?
Leaders inspire risk taking and learning by setting the example.
Somebody once said that an organization is like a fish — it rots from the head. Jack knew
that risk was the only way to innovate and move ahead. Doing things that are sure-fire
winners is just “business as usual”. And we all know that business as usual isn’t going to
cut it in today’s global marketplace (Hello China!).
And when everybody has their eyes on you, they sure as hell aren’t going to take risks and
innovate unless you do too.
When was the last time you stuck your neck out and took a risk?
Great leaders know that successes need to be celebrated. In his time at GE, Jack celebrated
like it was his job — literally. He did everything from keg parties to getaways to the tropics.
Your employees need/want to know that they are valued, and every team needs to stop and
take a breath every now and then. But mostly, people want to be a part of a winning team,
and you know you are winning when there are things to celebrate.
There are times and places for celebration. If it’s not a genuine celebration, you will probably
do more harm then good. But within every business is something worth celebrating every
once in awhile.
When was the last time you celebrated your successes?
We’re Polar and we’re here to decommodify. We wake up every morning on a mission to make companies like yours
more meaningful to your audience. Because, when you mean more, you can make more. We accomplish this
with a talented team stolen from some of Canada’s largest ad agencies and design firms. Our clients include a
cross-section of the most progressive thinkers around, in the healthcare, hi-tech, financial services and environmental
industries. Uncover more of our radical thinking and unignorable ideas at www.polarunlimited.com