“Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
– Jack Welch
Jack Welch is considered by many to be the greatest business leader of his era.
As CEO of General Electric from 1981 to 2001, he transformed it from a company known for appliances and light bulbs to a multinational corporation that branched into products like plastics, aircraft engines, televisions and fridges.
In 1999, Fortune magazine named him its ‘Manager of the Century’, saying: “He showed business people everywhere a method of attacking change of any kind.”
Welch has written a number of books containing valuable leadership advice, but they all come down to these 8 basic principles:
Leaders relentlessly upgrade their team, using every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach and build self-confidence.
The team with the best players wins. Simple as that.
In his years at GE, Welch spent more than half his time getting the right people in the right roles and then helping them to thrive.
He wrote: “People development should be a daily event, integrated into every aspect of your regular goings-on.”
Leaders make sure people not only see the vision, but they also live and breathe it.
Having everyone going in the same direction is key to leadership.
Great leaders have a vision for the future and motivate people to buy into it.
They constantly talk about their vision and reinforce it with rewards. Sharing your vision as a leader can in itself bring about the motivation your team needs to excel and drive the business forward.
Leaders get into everyone’s skin, exuding positive energy and optimism.
An effective leader will drive motivation and positivity through their teams.
Nothing brings down the morale of a team more than an unenthusiastic or disengaged leader.
“Unhappy tribes have a tough time winning,” Welch has said.
Your role is to be part coach and part cheerleader. A high level of optimism will keep your team upbeat and motivated.
Leaders establish trust with candour, transparency and credit.
Welch deemed lack of candour “a killer,” noting that it “blocks smart ideas, fast action, and good people contributing all the stuff they’ve got.”
The capacity to give candid feedback needs to come from the point of view of wanting to see your employees learn and grow, which is key to success.
Leaders also establish trust by giving credit where it is due. Make this a regular habit.
Trust also requires transparency, which goes both ways. You need to lead by example. And always keep your word.
Leaders listen to their gut and have the courage to make unpopular decisions.
Regardless of what others think, effective leaders always listen to their gut.
Your choices can determine the overall success of the organisation. You’ll find that your team will support your decisions (right or wrong) if they are made with transparency, trust and vision.
Welch once said “Tough calls spawn complaints and resistance. Your job is to listen and explain yourself clearly but move forward. Do not dwell or cajole.”
Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders on scepticism, making sure their questions are answered with action.
Great leaders have an insatiable curiosity. Far from having all the answers, they are the ones always asking the questions.
“When you’re a leader, your job is to have all the questions,” said Welch. “You have to be incredibly comfortable looking like the dumbest person in the room.”
Challenging your team requires a unique approach for each individual. Learn how to get their best without affecting their productivity in a negative way.
Leaders inspire risk-taking and learning by setting the example.
Essentially this means you need to encourage team members to experiment without being afraid of making mistakes.
Experimentation is a major key to growth. Leaders can set an example by not being afraid to take risks themselves.
Make a big deal out of small wins.
Don’t be afraid to celebrate. Celebrate early and often. Contrary to popular belief, celebrating small victories does not lead to complacency. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth.
Welch believes “Celebrating makes people feel like winners and creates an atmosphere of recognition and positive energy.”
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I hope you have enjoyed these insights. Have a great week and stay growth-focused!
+61 (0) 408 748 980