25 Lessons (in Leadership) from Jack Welch


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This afternoon I was Googling to find the exact quote by Jack Welch on being #1 or #2 in the market (for I post on tech market leadership) and found several sites (see the list below) that outlined “25 Lessons from Jack Welch” – clearly from his books. They were so inspirational – and so clear – that I felt compelled to share them myself. Here they are (like the others who have shared these, I have added some of my own comments as well):

  1. Lead. Managers muddle – leaders inspire. Leaders inspire with clear vision of how things can be done better.
  2. Manage Less. “We are constantly amazed by how much people will do when they are not told what to do by management.” Let your people do their what you hired them to do.
  3. Articulate Your Vision.Leaders inspire people with clear visions of how things can be done better.” Leaders do not provide a step-by-step instruction manual for their teams, they let their vision inspire action.
  4. Simplify. Keeping it simple. “Simple messages travel faster, simpler designs reach the market faster and the elimination of clutter allows faster decision making.” Simplicity is not easy, but is effective.
  5. Get Less Formal.You must realize now how important it is to maintain the kind of corporate informality that encourages a training class to comfortably challenge the boss’s pet ideas.” I have learned the most when people told me a better idea they had.
  6. Energize Others. Genuine leadership comes from the quality of your vision and your ability to spark others to extraordinary performance. Getting employees excited about their work is the key to being a great business leader. Your job is the create the environment for them to thrive, then let them do so.
  7. Face Reality. Face reality, then act decisively. Most mistakes that leaders make arise from not being willing to face reality and then acting on it. No where can reality change more quickly than technology.
  8. See Change as an Opportunity. Change is a big part of the reality in business. This reminds me of the old Chinese proverb that the icon for danger is the same as the one for opportunity.
  9. Get Good Ideas from Everywhere. New ideas are the lifeblood of business. “The operative assumption today is that someone, somewhere, has a better idea; and the operative compulsion is to find out who has that better idea, learn it, and put it into action – fast.” The best ideas of all usually change the entire game–vs. trying to improve it.
  10. Follow up. Follow up on everything. Follow-up is one key measure of success for a business. It is also simply polite.
  11. Get Rid of Bureaucracy. The way to harness the power of your people is “to turn them loose, and get the management layers off their backs, the bureaucratic shackles off their feet and the functional barriers out of their way.” Keep bureaucracy to the absolute minimum required to scale with predictability and quality.
  12. Eliminate Boundaries. In order to make sure that people are free to reach for the impossible, you must remove anything that gets in their way. Boundaries are created no only by obstacles, they are also created by lack of resources and support.
  13. Put Values First. Don’t focus too much on the numbers. “Numbers aren’t the vision; numbers are the products.” I have seen vision destroyed when organisations shift to much of their focus from it to quarterly or monthly numbers.
  14. Cultivate Leaders. Cultivate leaders who have the four E’s of leadership: Energy, Energize, Edge, and Execution. The best organisations I have worked in would not promote me until I developed at least one successor (who always added new improvements I would have never through of).
  15. Create a Learning Culture.The desire, and the ability, of an organization to continuously learn from any source, anywhere – and to rapidly convert this learning into action – is its ultimate competitive advantage.” When you stop learning you are dead.
  16. Involve Everyone. Business is all about capturing intellect from every person. The way to engender enthusiasm it to allow employees far more freedom and far more responsibility. If people are not involved, they have little reason to be creative and add more to the pie.
  17. Make Everybody a Team Player. Managers should learn to become team players. Take steps against those managers who wouldn’t learn to become team players. Your whole company is your team (the competition is the opposition).
  18. Stretch. Stretch targets energize. They compel growth and learning. “We have found that by reaching for what appears to be the impossible, we often actually do the impossible; and even when we don’t quite make it, we inevitably wind up doing much better than we would have done.
  19. Instill Confidence. Self-confident people are open to good ideas regardless of their source and are willing to share them. I have never been penalised by giving appropriate credit to the great idea of someone I worked with.
  20. Have Fun. Fun must be a big element in your business strategy. Life is too short to not have fun.
  21. Be Number 1 or Number 2. “When you’re number four or five in a market, when number one sneezes, you get pneumonia. When you’re number one, you control your destiny.” If you are not Number 1 or 2, aspire to be — and work to get there.
  22. Live Quality. “We want to change the competitive landscape by being not just better than our competitors, but by taking quality to a whole new level.” Deliver products and services you would be happy to use yourself.
  23. Constantly Focus on Innovation.You have just got to constantly focus on innovation. And more competitors. You’ve got to constantly produce more for less through intellectual capital. Shun the incremental, and look for the quantum leap.” Again, something very true in today’s technology world where no leaders can emerge from anywhere – if they have a solution that is far more innovative to all others.
  24. Live Speed. “Speed is everything. It is the indispensable ingredient of competitiveness.” Everyone who gets the market second is a “me too” follower.
  25. Behave Like a Small Company. Small companies have huge competitive advantages. They “are uncluttered, simple informal. They thrive on passion and ridicule bureaucracy. Small companies grow on good ideas – regardless of their source. They need everyone, involve everyone, and reward or remove people based on their contribution to winning. Small companies dream big dreams and set the bar high – increments and fractions don’t interest them.

It would be wonderful to work for Jack Welch (I envy those who have).

*I need to give credit to three sites who post various versions of these lessons: 1000 Ventures, The Practice of Leadership, and Cite HR.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Jim Haughwout
Jim Haughwout (pronounced "how-it") is passionate about creating technology that improves how people live and work. He is the Chief Technology Architect at Savi Technology and a General Partner at Oulixeus Consulting. His work has been featured by Network World, ZDNet, Social Media Today, the IBM Press, CIO Magazine, Fast Company, GigaOm and more.


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