Sunday, July 31, 2005

[article] It's Hard to Argue with Success

Jack Welch, in my not so humble opinion, is the hands down most successful business leader of the 20th Century. Before I lose any of you entrepreneurs out there who think leading GE is all that different from leading your computer business, construction company or even your hospital, please bear with me for a bit. As you might know, my work covers the gamut of business. Over the years I have come to realize that leadership is leadership no matter the size. Of course there are differences and many of those differences should not be ignored. For the most part, however, if you apply great leadership principles to a small business or even a single department, you are going to get big results, just like Jack did. Each of those big companies and institutions break down into smaller departments and units that need to be managed and led. I consistently preach leadership, management and communication fundamentals to my clients. The reason is that, if the fundamentals are not solid and do not offer a solid foundation, then the house will blow over sooner or later (remember the dot com bust?).

There is not a great leader in business that does not have an eye on the basics of financial management. If you have your eye on the financial ball you can get away with a lot in violating the fundamentals of managing “Human Capital,” but you will not grow like you could and I can guarantee you that your stress level will be in the stratosphere. This is simply because you just cannot control people, nor can you do it all by yourself. Those who try to do so stand in the way of their company’s growth. Holding people accountable goes a long way, but holding them accountable with love and care will really take your business where you want it to be. That is why leadership has room for so many different styles. You can be boisterous, funny, quiet, crazy, hands on, hands off, there, not there or any other way but there is one thing you cannot be and still be a great leader. You cannot be non-caring. Let me remind you we are talking about greatness, we are talking about Jack Welch. Yes, I know Jack was known as Neutron Jack at one point, but if you have ever tried to turn a failing business around then you know that blowing it up is a sure fire way to get on track. When the money has dried up that often is the best solution. If you follow Jack Welch you cannot help but come to the conclusion that he truly cared about people. Tough love might occasionally appear to be non-caring, but if you look closely you will see that there is a truth behind the toughness that is very loving.

Jack has eight principles that are terrific. I will list them here with a brief comment and if you want to read Jack’s commentary pick up his latest book “Winning.”

1. Leaders Relentlessly Upgrade Their Team, Using Every Encounter as An Opportunity to Evaluate, Coach And Build Self Confidence.

Allen – “You have to Coach”- This is only possible by meeting with people on a regular basis. That is what the research tells us the greatest mangers in the world do. If Jack had used my system God knows what he could have accomplished.

2. Leaders Make Sure People Not only See The Vision, They Live And Breathe It.

Allen – Every department should have their own vision and mission that supports the corporate vision and spells out just what you want that department to look like down the road.

3. Leaders Get Into Everyone’s Skin, Exuding Positive Energy And Optimism.

Allen – If you are negative, changing that is not easy, but it can happen with some help. Get a coach and begin the process if you want to experience the difference being positive will make. I am a realist and you can be both. I’ll show you how.

4. Leaders Establish Trust With Candor, Transparency And Credit.

Allen – Well said and let’s not forget to follow up until your direct report proves it is not necessary. You do not need to micro manage, but simply communicate – both ways.

5. Leaders Have The Courage To Make Unpopular Decisions And Gut Calls.

Allen – Get out of your head and learn how to feel. And know that intuition without information can be dangerous. “Fine line” stuff this leadership is.

6. Leaders Probe And Push With A Curiosity That Borders On Skepticism, Making Sure Their Questions Are Answered with Action.

Allen – This is the Coach Approach to Leadership and Management.

7. Leaders Inspire Risk Taking and Learning By Setting The Example.

Allen – The fruit is always out on the limb.

8. Leaders Celebrate

Allen – You should celebrate little wins too. Many leaders are such workaholics that they forget how to have some fun with their employees.

Well there you have it. If you want to get on track with changing your behavior and implementing great Leadership principles into your organization then call or Email me for a free one hour consultation.

Allen Hatton
Principal, Executive Development Group