Jack Welch’s book, titled “Winning”, provides a framework of qualities required for the success as a business leader in an enterprise. These qualities include the necessity of a strong mission and concrete values, the absolute necessity of candor, the power of differentiation, and giving value to each individual, respecting their voice and dignity. Welch explains the importance of a strong mission and values by saying that it gives individuals in the company drive and purpose, thus significantly improving their capacity for meaningful and thoughtful work (Welch 14). He also stated that “while your company may not collapse due to lack of mission and aligned values, it will definitely not reach its potential”. In visionary companies like Google and Apple, vision of the company is known and followed by every employee. The absolute necessity of candor is explained by Welch in connection to teamplay – a lack of candor means a lack of honesty, and a lack of honesty breaks up the team (Welch 26).
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The subject of differentiation is connected with candor. Welch (41) advocates for clear differentiation between who is who – the stars should be rewarded and cherished, the middle-performers should be kept content, and the under-performers should go. This idea goes against the modern ideas of diversity and valuing every contributor, but only in a way. Welch appreciates diversity, but not laziness and underperformance. It is shown in the final piece of his framework, where he talks about diversity and respect. The truth of the matter is that different people have different experiences and ideas based on their experience, background, education, and talent (Welch 56). But hearing and respecting everyone helps prevent bad ideas from perpetuating. In large companies with well-functioning systems of communication, processes are perfected and streamlined much faster. All of these lessons are, in one way or another, implemented in successful businesses, be that large or small.
My philosophy correlates with some of Jack Welch’s ideas. Namely, as a business executive professional, I know for a fact that employees operate better when they know what they are doing and why. Clear vision and mission statements have become a standard for every company since Welch wrote his book. However, I do believe that the most important thing in a statement is not just its clarity, but how does it reflect on the employee and their goals. Many workers, no matter the industry or the company, have a very cynical point of view regarding how businesses work, and see themselves as nothing more but workhorses to make money for the business owner. Such people would not be ignited by mere slogans. Therefore, I firmly believe that motivation of individuals to follow mission statements should come from a humane and respectful treatment of employees.
That correlates well to Welch’s fourth quality, as respect comes from treating employees as equals, not as mere subordinates. Respecting their professional opinion and giving them the ability to use it empowers individuals, in addition to what Welch said about it helping to improve the processes within the company. What I do not entirely agree with Welch in my persona philosophy of conduct is how all employees are differentiated into 20-70-10, and not because the system is allegedly inhumane, it is because it assumes that 10% are inevitably underachievers. While it is a realistic and down-to-earth assumption to say that 10% of all workers underperform, it does not explain why they underperform. In a properly-run company with good motivation and quality control, underachieving should be only due personal failings. I believe that if the company ensures appropriate conditions at the workplace, it can bring down the 10% to about 2-3%.
Welch, J., Winning, New York, Harper Collins Publishing, 2005.