"Winning" by Jack Welch 

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Additional thought of Graham White in highlights.



Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself.

When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.


What Leader Do

  1. Leaders relentlessly upgrade their team, using every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach, and build self-confidence.

  2. Leaders make sure people not only see the vision, they live and breathe it.

  3. Leaders get into everyone's skin, exuding positive energy and optimism.

  4. Leaders establish trust with candor, transparency, and credit.

  5. Leaders have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls.

  6. Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders on skepticism, making sure their questions are answered with action.

  7. Leaders inspire risk taking and leading by setting the example.

  8. Leaders celebrate.


Life would be easier if leadership was just a list of simple rules, but paradoxes are inherent.  A leader is someone who can squeeze and dream at the same time, balancing the conflict of short and long-term results.

Take rule 3 and rule 6.  One says you should show positive energy and optimism, showering your people with a can-do attitude.  The other says you should constantly question your people and take nothing they say for granted.

Take rule 5 and rule 7.  One says you need to act like a boss, asserting authority.  The other says you need to admit mistakes and embrace people who take risks, especially when they fail.

  • You have to evaluate - making sure the right people are in the right jobs, supporting and advancing those who are, and moving out those who are not.

  • You have to coach - guiding, critiquing, and helping people to improve their performance in every way.

  • You have to build self-confidence - pouring out encouragement, caring, and recognition.  This gives your people the courage to stretch, take risks and achieve beyond their dreams.  It is the fuel of winning teams.

People development does not occur once a year in performance review.  People development is a daily event, integrated into every aspect of what a leader does.

Evaluating and coaching are great, but building self-confidence is the most important thing you can do.  Take every opportunity to inject self-confidence into those who have earned it.  Use ample praise, the more specific the better.


Setting the tone

The leader's mood is catching.  Your job is to fight the gravitational pull of negativism.  That doesn't mean you sugarcoat the challenges your team faces.  It does mean you display and energizing, can-do attitude about overcoming them.  It means you get out of your office and into everyone's skin, really caring about what they're doing and how they're doing and how they're faring as you take the hill together.


Creating Candor

When you were mad a leader you weren't given a drown, you were given a responsibility to bring out the best in others.  For that, your people need to trust you.  And they will, as long as you demonstrate candor, give credit, and stay real.  

Your people should always know where they stand in terms of their performance.  They have to know how the business is doing.  And sometimes the news is not good - such as imminent layoffs - and any normal person would rather avoid delivering it.  But you have to fight the impulse to pad or diminish hard messages or you'll pay with your team's confidence and energy.

Leaders also establish trust by giving credit where credit is due.  They never score off their own people by stealing an idea an claiming it as their own.  They don't kiss up and kick down because they are self-confident and mature enough to know that their team's success will get them recognition, and sooner rather than later.  In bad times, leaders take responsibility for what's gone wrong.  In good times, they generously pass around the praise.


Making the tough calls

Don't run for office.  You're already elected.  You are a not a leader to win a popularity contest - you are a leader to lead.  

No matter where you work or what you do, there are times you have to make hard decisions - let people go, cut funding to a project, or close a plant.  Obviously, tough calls spawn complaints and resistance.  Your job is to listen and explain yourself clearly, but move forward.  Do not swell or cajole.

Sometimes making a decision is hard not because it's unpopular, but because it comes from your gut and defies a "technical" rationale.  You've been made a leader because you've seen more and been right more times.  Listen to your gut.  It's telling you something.  If you're left with that "uh-oh" feeling in your stomach, don't hire the guy.

When you are an individual contributor, you try to have all the answers.  That's your job - to be an expert, the best at what you do maybe even the smartest person in the room.

When you are a leader, your job is to have all the questions.  You have to be incredibly comfortable looking like the dumbest person in the room.  Every conversation you have about a decision, a proposal, or a piece of market information has to be filled with you saying, "What if?" and "Why not?" and "How come?"

I realize most people don't love the probing process.  It's annoying to believe in a product or come into a room with a beautiful presentation only to have it picked apart with questions from the boss, but that's the job.  You want bigger and better solutions.  Questions, healthy debate, decisions, and action will get everyone there.


Setting the example

Just because you're the boss doesn't mean you're the source of all knowledge.  Talk about your experiences, even your mistakes openly.  It's ok to make mistakes, as long as you learn from them.  You don't need to be preachy or somber about your errors.  In fact, the more humorous and lighthearted you can be about them, the more people will get the message that mistakes aren't fatal.


Celebrate achievements

Work is too much a part of life not to recognize moments of achievement.  Grab as many as you can.  Make a big deal out of them.  



There is no easy formula for being a leader.  Leadership is challenging - and it comes in all kinds of packages.  There are quiet leaders and bombastic ones.  There are analytical leaders and more impulsive ones.  Some are tough as nails with their team, others are more nurturing.  On the surface, you would be hard-pressed to say what qualities leaders share.

Underneath, you would surely see that the best care passionately about their people - about their growth and success.  And you would see that they themselves are comfortable in their own skins.  They're real, filled with candor and integrity, optimism and humanity.  

I am often asked if leaders are born or made.  The answer, of course, is both.  Some characteristics, like IQ and energy, seem to come with the package.  On the other hand, you learn some leadership skills, like self-confidence, at your mother's knee, and at school, in academics and sports.  And you learn others at work through iterative experience - trying something, getting it wrong and learning from it, or getting it right and gaining the self-confidence to do it again, only better.

For most of us, leadership happens one day when you become a boss and the rules change.  Before, your job was about yourself.  Now it's about them.


Mission Statement 

How do you come up with a Mission Statement?

A mission statement is the defining moment for a company's leadership.  You can get input from anywhere - and you should listen to smart people from every quarter, but setting the mission is top management's responsibility.  It cannot be delegated to anyone except the people ultimately held accountable for it.

The executive team has to go out of their way to be sure they've created an atmosphere where people feel it is their obligation to contribute.  The document should go out to be poked an probed by people all over the organization, over and over again.  Getting more participation makes a real difference, giving you more insights and more ideas, and at the end of the process, most importantly, much more extensive buy-in.  


What is a Mission Statement?

A mission statement must describe real behaviors.  In my experience, an effective mission statement basically answers one question: How do we intend to win in this business?  The question forces companies to delineate their strengths and weaknesses in order to assess where they can profitably play in the competitive landscape.

Integrity is not part of your mission statement.  Integrity is just a ticket to the game.  A good mission statement and a good set of values are so real they smack you in the face with their concreteness.  The mission announces exactly where you are going, and the values describe the behaviors that will get you there.  I recommend replacing the term values with behaviors.

As a leader, you have to make the vision come alive!  In order to do this, don't use jargon.  Goals cannot sound noble but be vague.  Your direction has to be so vivid that if you randomly woke up one of those on your team they could tell you precisely what it was.  Talk about your vision to the point people wish you would stop talking about it.  The message is always new to someone, so keep repeating it.  

You need to do more than talk about it to those on your own level, it MUST filter down to the front-line positions.  Think about the times when you've bumped into a hurried clerk in a store or been put on hold at a company that promises speed and convenience.  Somehow they haven't heard about or internalized the mission of the company.   It has to come from the top, be lived by those at the top and reward people based on the mission's values.

Vision is an essential element of the leader's job.  But no vision is worth the paper it's printed on unless it is communicated constantly and reinforced with rewards.  Only then will it leap off the page and come to life!  Your compensation plan will determine how people behave.  Make sure your compensation is directly tied to your values.



The lack of candor is the biggest dirty little secret in business.  Lack of candor basically blocks smart ideas, fast action and good people contributing all the stuff they've got.  When you've got candor - and you'll never completely get it - everything just operates faster and better.

First - Candor gets more people in the conversation, and when you get more people in the conversation you get idea rich.  Many more ideas get surfaced, discussed, pulled apart and improved.  Instead of everyone shutting down, everyone opens up and learns.  Any organization that brings more people and their minds into the conversation has an immediate advantage.

Second - Candor generates speed.  When ideas are in everyone's face, they can be debated rapidly, expanded and enhanced and acted upon.  That approach - surface, debate, improve, decide - isn't just an advantage, it's a necessity in a global marketplace.  You can be sure that any upstart five-person enterprise down the street or in Shanghaie or in Bangalore can move faster than you to begin with.  Candor is one way to keep up.

Third - Candor cuts costs - lots - although you'll never be able to put a precise number on it.  Just think of how it eliminates meaningless meetings and b.s. reports that confirm what everyone already knows.  Think of how candor replaces fancy PowerPoint slides and mind-numbing presentations with real conversations, whether they're about company strategy, a new product introduction or someone's performance.


People don't speak their minds because it's simply easier not to.  When you tell it like it is, you can so easily create a mess - anger, pain, confusion, sadness, resentment.  To make matters worse, you then feel compelled to clean up that mess, which can be awful and awkward and time-consuming.  So you justify your lack of candor on the grounds that it prevents sadness or pain in another person, that not saying anything or telling a little white lie is the kind, decent thing to do.  But in fact, not being candid is actually about self-interest - making your own life easier.

People are tempted not to be candid because they don't look at the big picture.  They worry that when they speak their minds and the news isn't good, they stand a strong chance of alienating other people.  Ironically, when people do so to gain favor with others, they actually destroy trust and ultimately erode the society.

Even though candor is vital to winning, it is hard and time-consuming to instill in any group, no matter what size.  Virtually any group you join does not have this instilled as one of it's values.  YOU need to lead and demonstrate over and over again that this principle is fundamental to the way you communicate.  The good thing about candor is that it's an unnatural act that is more than worth it.  



The People Part

Winning companies are meritocracies.  They practice differentiation, making a clear distinction between top, middle and bottom performers.  This system is candid and fair, and it's the most effective way for an organization to field the best team.

Differentiation is a process that requires managers to assess their employees and separate them into three categories in terms of performance: top 20%, middle 70% and bottom 10%.  Then, and this is key - it requires managers to act on that distinction.  We all naturally differentiate in our heads, but few of us are candid enough to make it real.

The top 20% tend to be showered with praise.  The middle 70% tend to be managed differently.  This 70% of the population is enormously valuable to the company; you simply cannot function without their skills, energy and commitment.  The challenge then, is keeping the middle 70% engaged and motivated.

So much of managing the middle 70% is about training, positive feedback and thoughtful goal setting.  If individuals in this group have particular promise, they should be moved around to increase their experience and knowledge and to test their leadership skills.  It is not about keeping them out of the bottom 10%.  It is not about saving poor performers.  It is about managers looking at the middle 70%, identifying people with potential to move up, and cultivating them.  But everyone in the middle 70 needs to be motivated and made to feel as if they truly belong.  You do not want to lose them, you want to improve them!

As for the bottom 10%, there is not sugarcoating this - they have to go.  That's more easily said than done.  It's awful to fire people - I even hate the word.  But if you have a candid organization with clear performance expectations and a performance evaluation process - a big if, but that should be everyone's goal - then people in the bottom 10% generally know who they are.  As a leader, you want them to be successful, and if they aren't successful in your organization, let them go on to be successful somewhere else.

Arguments Against Differentiation

Differentiation favors people who are energetic and extroverted and undervalues people who are shy and introverted, even if they are talented.

This criticism of differentiation is not really about differentiation, but about society's values.  In business, energetic and extroverted people generally do better, but results speak for themselves, loud and clear.  

I don't know if it's good or bad, but the world generally favors people who are energetic and extroverted.  That's also something you learn young, and it's reinforced in school, at church, at camp, in clubs, and usually at home too.  By the time you get to work, if you are still shy and introverted an somewhat low in energy, there are professions and jobs where those characteristics are advantageous.  If you know yourself, you will find them.  



Hiring good people is hard.  

Hiring great people is brutally hard.

And yet nothing matters more in winning than getting the right people on the field.


The Acid Tests

1.  Integrity

People with integrity tell the truth, and they keep their word.  They take responsibility for past actions, admit mistakes and fix them.

You need to rely on reputation and reference checks.  You also have to rely on your gut.  Does the person seem real?  Does she openly admit mistakes?  Does he talk about his life with equal measure of candor and discursion?  

Over time, many of us develop and instinct for integrity.  Just don't be afraid to use it.

2.  Intelligence

Sometimes people confuse education with intelligence.  I certainly did that at the start of my career.  But with experience, I learned that smart people come from every kind of school.

The candidate should have a strong dose of intellectual curiosity, with a breadth of knowledge to work with or lead other smart people in today's complex world.  

2.  Maturity

The individual must be able to withstand the heat, handle stress and setbacks, and, alternatively, when those wonderful moments arise, enjoy success with equal parts of joy and humility.  Mature people respect the emotions of others.  They feel confident but are not arrogant.

In fact, mature people usually have a sense of humor, especially about themselves!  

As with integrity, there is no real test for maturity.  Again, you have to rely on reference checks, reputation and most important, gut.



The first E is positive Energy - It means the ability to go go go - to thrive on action and relish change.  People with positive energy are generally extroverted and optimistic.  they make conversation and friends easily.  They start the day with enthusiasm and usually end it that way too, rarely seeming to tire in the middle.  They don't complain about working hard; they love to work.

They also love to play.  People with positive energy just love life!

The second E is the ability to Energize Others - People who energize can inspire their team to take on the impossible - and enjoy the hell out of doing it.  In fact, people would arm wrestle for the chance to work with them.

The third E is Edge, the courage to make tough yes-or-no decisions - Effective people know when to stop assessing and make a tough call, even without total information.  Little is worse than a manager who can't cut bait.

Which leads us to the fourth E - Execute - the ability to get the job done - It turns out you can have positive energy, energize everyone around you, make hard calls, and still not get over the finish line.  Being able to execute is a special and distinct skill.  It means a person knows how to put decisions into action and push them forward to completion, through resistance, chaos, or unexpected obstacles.  People who can execute know that winning is about results.

If a candidate has passed the four E's, then you look for that final P - Passion - By passion, I mean a heartfelt, deep, and authentic excitement about work.  People with passion care - really care in their bones - about colleagues, employees, and friends winning.  They love to learn and grow, and they get a huge kick when the people around them do the same.

The funny thing about people with passion, though, is that they usually aren't excited just about work.  They tend to be passionate about everything!  They just have juice for life in their veins.



The first characteristic is Authenticity

Leaders can't have an iota of fakeness.  They have to know themselves - so that they can be straight with the world, energize followers, and lead with the authority born of authenticity.

Occasionally you will encounter a very successful junior executive or manager who just can not be promoted to the next level.  Their is a certain phoniness to them.  They're pretending to be something they're not - more in control, more upbeat, more savvy than they really are.  They're playing a role of their own inventing.


The second characteristic is the ability to see around corners

The ability to see around corners is the ability to imagine the unimaginable, the ability to see what's coming next.


The third characteristic is a strong penchant to surround themselves with people better and smarter than they are

A good leader has the courage to put together a team of people who sometimes make him look like the dumbest person in the room!  I know that sounds counterintuitive.  You want your leader to be the smartest person in the room - but if he acts as if he is, he won't get half the pushback he must get to make the best decisions.


The fourth characteristic is heavy-duty resilience. 

Every leader makes mistakes, every leader stumbles and falls.  The question with a senior-level leader is, does she learn from her mistakes, regroup, and then get going again with renewed speed, conviction, and confidence?

Resilience is not the time to learn resilience.  When putting someone into a position of leadership, you need to find people who have already successfully navigated one or two very tough experiences.



1.  How do you actually interview somebody for a job?

First, don't ever rely entirely on one meeting.  Call around.  Promise you won't repeat what you hear.  Challenge anything that sounds like lawyer-speak when getting a reference.  

Second, make sure every candidate is interviewed by more than one person.

At some point in the interview process, when it's your turn, make sure you exaggerate the challenge of the open job; describe it on its worst day - hard, contentious, political, full of uncertainty.  As you crank it up, see if the candidate keeps saying, "Yes, yes, yes!"  If he does, you should worry that he has few other options, if any.  You may even be his sole hope of employment.

Be impressed if the candidate starts peppering you back with hard questions like, "How soon do you expect the results to be achieved?" or "Do I have enough people to make this happen?"  Be even more impressed if she asks you about the company's values.  The difficulty of a job will bring good candidates to the edge of their seats with curiosity and firm self-confidence, not overenthusiastic acquiescence.


2.  Even if the job is simply one that requires technical expertise, use the four E's.

3.  What if someone is missing one or two of the E's?  Can training fill the gaps?

I encourage you not to hire any team member - manager or not - without a good dose of positive energy.  Edge and execution, on the other hand, can be developed with experience and management training.


4.  Can a person get ahead in business without the four E's or passion?

Absolutely yes.  A person can reach great heights just by being very smart.  Or just by the sheer ability to get things done.  We can all think of examples of these individuals.  Many are the inventors and entrepreneurs of the world, and usually they run their own shows.


5.  How important is it to try to hire people who can hit the ground running, with very little training?

Hiring a highly skilled "blocker" - someone who will hit the ground running but has no future beyond the open position - is tempting because it solves an immediate need.  But blockers soon become energy drains.  They get bored by the familiarity of the work, or swamped by its challenges.  Their people get discouraged because they see their bosses going nowhere, which makes them wonder about their own opportunities.


6.  How long does it take to know if you've hired right?

Hiring right is hard.  I'd say as a young manager, I picked the right people about 50% of the time.  Thirty years later, I had improved to about 80%.  My point is: don't beat yourself up if you get hiring wrong some of the time, especially when you're starting out.  Situation change, people change, you change.

But just remember, every hiring mistake is yours.  You have to fix it, not an HR person you call in to do your dirty work.  Take responsibility and make sure the ending is candid and fair.


The BIG question...

If I had only one question I could ask in an interview, it would be about why the candidate left his previous job, and the one before that.

Was it the environment?  Was it the boss?  Was it the team?  What exactly made you leave?  There is so much information in those answers.  Keep digging and dig deep.  Maybe the candidate just expects too much from a job or a company - he wants a boss who is entirely hands-off or teammates who always agree.  Maybe he wants too much reward too fast.  Or maybe she's leaving her last job because she has just what you want: too much energy to be held back, so much ability to energize she wants to manage more people, too much edge for a namby-pamby employer, and such a strong ability to execute she needs more challenge.

The key is: Listen closely.  Get in the candidate's skin.  why a person has left a job or jobs tells you more about them than almost any other piece of data.



Even if your company is too small to have its own HR department, somebody has to be doing HR.  HR has to be as important as any other function in the company.  In fact, why wouldn't HR be as important as finance?  Unfortunately, at a lot of companies, HR isn't even in the same room.

The reason, I think, are threefold.  First, the impact of HR is hard to quantify.  You can see how sales and R & D affect performance, and how finance tallies it up.  But HR deals with "air" - people skills.  Not only are people skills squishy-soft, most people assume they have them in spades.  How many times have you heard someone say, "I'm a people person!"

Second, HR too often gets relegated or pushed into a benefits trap - administering insurance plans and overseeing scheduling issues like vacation and flextime.  It also gets saddled with health and happiness activities - putting out the plant newspaper and organizing the summer picnic.  Someone has to take care of these tasks, but if HR gets stuck doing them all the time, its stature will never be what it should.

The best HR people are kind of hybrid: one part pastor, who hears all the sins and complaints without recrimination, and one part parent, who loves and nurtures, but gives it to you fast and straight when you're off track.



There is no right way to evaluate people.  Every company will devise different forms and different methodologies.  But any good evaluation system should share some characteristics.

  • It should be clear and simple, washed clean of time-consuming bureaucratic gobbledygook.  If your evaluation system involves more than two pages of paperwork per person, something is wrong.  I evaluated my twenty or so direct reports with frequent handwritten notes that included two pieces of information: what I though the person did well, and how I thought they could improve.

  • It should measure people on relevant, agreed-upon criteria that relate directly to an individual's performance.  The criteria should be quantitative, based on how people deliver on certain goals, and qualitative, based on how they deliver on desired behaviors.

  • it should ensure that managers evaluate their people at least once a year, and preferable twice, in formal, face-to-face sessions.  Informal appraisals should happen all the time.  But when it comes to formal reviews, one of the face-to-face sessions should let people know where they stand in relation to others.  If your company practices differentiation, a good evaluation system is where the rubber meets the road.

  • Finally, a good evaluation system should include a professional development component.  Managers should not only talk to their employees about next career steps, but should elicit from them the names of the two or three people who they think could replace them should they be promoted.


Motivate and Retain through Money, Recognition and Training

People want recognition, but their pay level must match their recognition.  They must also have the opportunity to advance in the company both in position and financially.  This is accomplished through ongoing training.  If this advancement is not possible, you can be certain that they will leave, sooner rather than later.

If your company is managing people well, it tightly aligns good performance with rewards.  The better you do, the more you get - and you bet it in both the soul and the wallet.

There is hardly anything more frustrating than working hard, meeting or exceeding expectations, and discovering that it doesn't matter to your company.  You get nothing special, or you get what everyone else does.

People need to get differentiated rewards and recognition to be motivated.  And companies need to deliver both for retention.  A good company does not let good people walk out the door for lack of recognition, financial or otherwise.

It's that simple.

Another key way to motivate and retain is through training.  If you've hired the right people, they will want to grow!



In my experience, unions arise only when a plant or office is being managed by someone who is abusive, remote, or indifferent, and whose actions have taken away the voice and dignity of employees.  Without a doubt, that boss needs to be reformed or removed because unionization is an excessive response with negative long-term consequences - really for everyone.


Managing Stars

The minute a start seems to be getting arrogant or out of control, someone has to call the person in to have a candid conversation about values and behaviors.  You can never be afraid of your stars; they can't hold a company hostage.

Now, sometimes starts surprise you and up and leave.  That can be a defining moment.  Ideally, the star will be replaced within eight hours.  That's right, eight hours.  This immediate reaction sends the message to the organization that no one is indispensable.  It shouts out that no single individual is bigger than the company.


Managing Sliders

These are employees who were once good performers, but have hit a wall for some reason or another, ranging from midlife crisis to a job-related disappointment.

A slider, while generally well liked, now just shows up at work and goes through the motions.  In most cases, no one knows what to do about it.  In fact, the situation is usually so awkward, people look away.  You can't.

Often managers take a long time to let these individuals go because their previous accomplishments were more than acceptable.  But a company that manages people well quickly moves to get its sliders back in the game, and if that doesn't work, tells them the game is over.


Managing the Middle 70%

You just can't allow the middle 70% to toil away in a form of obscurity, like a well-behaved, mild-mannered middle child in a family of attention-grabbing prodigies and troublemakers.

Well-managed companies fight that pull.  In fact, they make sure managers spend at least 50% of their people time on their biggest constituency, evaluating and coaching them.  Further, they don't forget the middle 70 when it comes to rewards, recognition, and training.

Future stars are very often hard at work - quietly - in the middle 70.  A good company recognizes that and makes it clear that this ranking is just a snapshot in time.  It encourages this group, using every tool in its people management kit.

The point is: The middle 70 matter a lot.  It is the heart and soul - the central core - of any company.  If you're going to manage people well, you simply cannot forget the majority of them.



You learn how to fire on the job, under the most stressful of circumstances.  Nothing really prepares you.  Managers don't sit around talking about how to do it, comparing notes.  I'm not aware of any business schools that actually teach the process, and while company training programs might talk a lot about evaluations, none that I know of offer a lot of help on how to actually let people go.

Which leaves you to your instincts.  Maybe some people are born to fire well.  I know I wasn't.  I did it for years and never got used to it.

There are three main ways that managers get firing wrong

  1. Moving too fast.

  2. Not using enough candor

  3. Taking too long

That said, not all partings are created equal...


Integrity Violations

Stealing, lying, cheating, or any other form of ethical or legal breach.  These are no-brainers.  In such cases, you don't need to hesitate for a moment before firing someone or fret about it either.  Just do it, and make sure the organization knows why, so that the consequences of breaking the rules are not lost on anyone.


Layoffs due to economic downturns



Firing for nonperformance 

These are the ones that usually turn into bitter messes.


HOW TO FIRE - (by Graham White)

The ultimate responsibility to see than any position is filled by a qualified individual and ensuring that the individual is performing well is up to the manager.  If these conditions are not fulfilled, the manager has not done one of 6 things:

  1. Hired properly.

  2. Trained properly.

  3. Provided the necessary tools.

  4. Provided the necessary leadership.

  5. Ensured that the pay and recognition match the position.

  6. Recognized an individual needing time off for personal crisis.


In order to let someone go, Five Steps must be taken:

1.  Be sure that you have clearly defined the parameters of the position in writing and gone over it verbally with the employee.

2.  If a problem arises, whenever possible, take the side of the employee and find out if they need more clarity, more training or time to deal with personal issues.

3.  Detail the specific measurable pieces that must be present in the position in order for the individual to continue.

4.  Let them know the specific date you will review their performance again and what action will occur should they not meet the position's standards.

5.  If they do not meet the standards that have been established, support them in achieving success where they are able to show up at 100%.

Notice, it is NOT about firing the individual.  It is about being clear about the expectations of the position and SUPPORTING the individual's success.  If, for whatever reason, they cannot be a success in your company, let them know that you desire to see them successful where ever that may be.  The goal is to fill the position with the most qualified individual AND to support the success of every person, regardless of their fit with THAT position.



Change is the nature of the world, particularly the business world.  Most people don't like change, but as a leader, you are responsible to implement it.  


Attach every change initiative to a clear purpose or goal.  Change for change's sake is unwise and an energy drain.

Change should be a relatively orderly process.  For that to occur, people have to understand - in their heads and in their hearts - why change is necessary and where change is taking them.


Most say they are agents of change, few actually are.

Change agents usually make themselves known.  They're typically brash, high-energy, and more than a little bit paranoid about the future.  Very often, they invent change initiatives on their own or ask to lead them.  Invariably, they are curious and forward-looking.  They ask a lot of questions that start with the phrase "Why don't we....?"

These people have courage - a certain fearlessness about the unknown.  Something in them makes it OK to operate without a safety net.  If they fail, they know they can pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and move on.  They're thick-skinned about risk, which allows them to make bold decisions without a lot of data.

Real change agents comprise less than 10% of all businesspeople.  These are the true believers who champion change, know how to make it happen, and love every second of the process.  A significant majority - about 70 - 80 percent more - may not lead the charge, but once they are convinced change is necessary, they say, "OK already, get on with it."

The rest are resistors.


Ferret out and remove the resistors, even if their performance is satisfactory.

I have seen managers hold on to resisters because of a specific skill set or because they've been around for a long time.  


Resistors only get more diehard and their followings more entrenched as time goes on.  They are change killers; cut them off early.


Look At Car Wrecks

Most companies capitalize on obvious opportunities.  When a competitor fails, they move in on their customers.  When a new technology emerges, they invest in it and create product line extensions.

But to be a real change organization, you also have to have the guts to look at bolder, scarier, more unpredictable events, and assess and make the most of the opportunities they present.  This capability takes a certain determination and sometimes a strong stomach, but the rewards can be huge.  Seize every single opportunity, even those from someone else's misfortune.



First, assume the problem is worse than it appears.    Managers can waste a lot of time at the outset of a crisis denying that something went wrong.  Don't let that happen to you.  Skip the denial step, and get into the mind-set that the problem will get bigger, messier, and more awful than you can possibly imagine.

Second, assume there are no secretes in the world and that everyone will eventually find out everything.  One of the most common tendencies inside the crisis vortex is containment, in which managers frantically try to clamp down on information flow.  It's far better to get out ahead of the problem, exposing its scope before someone else does it for you.

Third, assume you and your organization's handling of the crisis will be portrayed in the worst possible light.  It is not the job of the media to make you or your organization look good during a crisis, and they won't.  And never mind the media.  Your own organization can be a tough audience during times of trouble.  In both cases, the implication is the same: define your own position early and often.

Fourth, assume there will be changes in processes and people.  almost no crisis ends without blood on the floor.  Real crises don't just fade away.  They require solutions that overhaul current processes or introduce new ones and, just as often, upend lives and careers.

Fifth, assume your organization will survive, ultimately stronger for what happened.  We learned something from every single crisis that made us a smarter and more effective organization.  Taking the long view might make living in the hellish moment somewhat more bearable.



Strategy is actually very straightforward.  Strategy means making clear-cut choices about how to compete.  You cannot be everything to everybody, no matter what the size of your business or how deep it's pockets.  When it comes to strategy, ponder less and do more.  You pick a general direction and implement like hell.

If they're headed in the right direction and are broad enough, strategies don't really need to change all that often.  Getting the right strategy means you have to assume your competitors are damn good, of at the least as good as you are, and that they are moving just as fast or faster.



It's been said that the best practices aren't a sustainable competitive advantage because they are so easy to copy.  That's nonsense.  It is true that, once a best practice is out there, everybody can imitate it, but companies that win do two things: they imitate and improve.

Because of this, they are also not afraid to share - if they're not direct competitors, of course - all you have to do is ask.



The budgeting process at most companies has to be the most ineffective practice in management.  When companies win, in most cases it is despite their budgets, not because of them.  

A better way

Link strategic planning to these two questions:

  • How can we beat last year's performance?

  • What is our competition doing, and how can we beat them?

"But what about my bonus?"

Compensation for individuals and businesses can not be linked to performance against budget.  It needs to be linked primarily to performance against the prior year and against the competition, and take real strategic opportunities and obstacles into account.

If you do not take into account the market forces and what is actually going on, you are basing rewards on arbitrary numbers created at the start of the year.  

Bonus based on performance against:

  • How can we create more value for less cost then we did last year?

  • What is our competition doing, and how can we create more value for less cost than they are?



For a new business to succeed, it has to have the best people in charge, not the most available. Spend plenty up front, and put in the best, hungriest, and most passionate people in leadership roles.

You are looking for gutsy people who are willing to risk and let it all hang out.  You WANT people who push for more resources, not ones that are content to make do.  You don't necessarily give them everything they ask for, but you're looking for those who are more passionate than you about the project itself.

If you are the one leading the project, you're always going to want more than you get.  The best way to get autonomy is to earn it.  Your job is to push for as much as you can get without becoming offensive in the process.  



If done properly, these should take no more that 90 days to get momentum going with new leadership.  Those who were in leadership before you arrived need to know that they need to swallow their pride, prove their worth and start over again.  Failing that, they should leave.  They will either be part of the solution or a drain on energy.  There is never any end to Earning the Right.

Change is not easy and sometimes the old management will need to "fake it" until it becomes natural working with the new leadership, but they MUST be 100% on side or they must go.  Everyone is looking to them to set the tone.



Variation is evil.  You must internalize this maxim.  Regardless of whether you are 5 Star or the McDonald's of your industry, clients absolutely must be able to count on what they're going to get.  I can't stress this point enough.  Consistency, consistency, consistency.  You will be seen as your mistakes, not your successes, so ensure consistency at a level you can manage, even when things are difficult.



It has been said that you can only live life forward and understand it backward.  The exact same thing is true about careers.

Next to nobody started out with the idea of what they finally ended up doing.  So how do you find the right job?

It's a discovery process - you take one job, discover what you like and don't like about it and what you're good and bad at, and then, in time, change jobs to get something closer to the right fit.  And you do that until one day you realize - hey, I'm finally in the right job.  I like what I'm doing, and I'm making the trade-offs I'm willing to make.

Trade-offs are a part of the equation because very few jobs are perfect.  You may love your work with every fiber of your being, but wish the money were better.  Or you may only like the work, but love your colleagues.  

Imagine You are Considering A new Job


  It's a good sign if...   Be concerned if...
  PEOPLE You like the people a lot - you can relate to them, and you genuinely enjoy their company.  In fact, they even think and act like you do. You feel like you'll need to put on a persona at work.  After a visit to the company, you find yourself saying things like, "I don't need to be friends with the people I work with"
  OPPORTUNITY The job give you the opportunity to grow as a person and a professional, and you get the feeling you will learn things there that you didn't even know you needed to learn. You're being hired as an exert, and upon arrival, you will most likely be the smartest person in the room.
  OPTIONS The job gives you a credential you can take with you, and is a business and industry with a future. The industry has peaked or has awful economics, and the company itself, for any number of reasons, will do little to expand your career options.
  OWNERSHIP You are taking the job for yourself, or you know whom you are taking it for, and feel at peace with the bargain. You are taking the job for any number of other constituents, such as a spouse who wants you to travel less or the sixth-grade teacher who said you would never amount to anything.
  WORK CONTENT The "stuff" of the job turns your crank - you love the work, it feels fun and meaningful t you, and even touches something primal in your soul. The job feels like a job.  In taking it, you say things lie, "This is just until something better comes along," or "You can't beat the money!"



Moving From One Job to the Next

First, don't quit one job until you have another.  The only exception to this is if the company is violating the law.  The way it treats its employees, it's lack of care for you as a human being or it's lack of sensitivity to your particular situation are NOT good enough reasons to quit without another job lined up.  In fact, you need to continue showing up and contributing 100% to the job until you move on to the next job.


Finding Your First Real Job

For a few lucky people, this process is relatively straightforward.  They've got great grades from a quality school and some impressive work experience along the way.  These new graduates, out of college or recent MBAs, usually have plenty of options, and I hope the signals in this chapter will be helpful in choosing wisely.

Many people, however, do not get their pick of first job assignments.  Their school record is only OK, their job experience not particularly special.  That puts them in a position where they have to sell themselves to an audience that ranges from skeptical to downright negative.

If you're in that category, my strong advice is just be real and come clean.

There is nothing less appealing than an applicant with a so-so record overselling himself with a lot of bravado or over eagerness.  It's just so phony, and experienced managers can smell the fakery a mile away.  

The best thing you can do is tell your true story.  "OK, I know my grades aren't' that great," you might say.  "I spent a lot of time playing intramural sports and, to be honest, a lot of time with my friends.  I definitely could have studied more, but I had other priorities, which probably weren't the best ones.  The reason you should still hire me is because I never give up on a challenge, I work hard, I believe in your product, and I admire your company, and I know I can contribute here."

While you're telling your true story, act like your true self.  If you are generally outspoken and funny, don't act stiff and serious during your interviews.  If you are a nerd, don't try to act slick.  The company should know what it's getting, and you should show them, so you see how they react.  I know of an MBA who tripped over a doorjamb on her way into an interview with three executives at a prestigious consulting firm.  After scrambling back to her feet, she shook hands with her interviewers, saying, "And I'm Grace, the ballet teacher."

None of them cracked a smile, nor did they try to put her at ease after what was obviously an embarrassing moment.  She ended up being offered the job; she declined.

"They saw the real me, and I saw the real them," she recalls. 

My main point is, when going after your first job, live in your own skin and be comfortable there.  Authenticity may be the best selling point you've got.


The second special job situation is when you are stuck in a position and see no way out.

There are a slew of ways to get stuck in a job.  there is nowhere to move up, since your boss isn't going anywhere, and he has no interest in pushing you for a job in another division.  You've been passed over for a promotion, and you've been told you are find where you are, but you're not moving on anytime soon.  Your company promotes people only after a certain period of time - which is a long way off.  You love your job but the money is bad, or the money is great but your job is lousy.

This list alone could make you want to scream.  Ant that's the problem with being stuck.  Frustration builds and builds until people generally do something stupid - they quit.  

DON'T DO THAT.  It is much, much easier to get a job from a job.  I would go further and say, not only should you stay put, you should work harder.  Nothing will get you a new job faster than terrific performance in your old one.

Gerry Roche, one of the most respected headhunters in the US says that even if you feel stuck, if you are performing well, two outside observers are likely to know - headhunters and competitors.

"Great performers are like the masts of the tall ships.  We can see them over the horizon, and we are always trying to bring them in - to our port."

By contrast, the worst kind of job seekers are those Gerry calls "perennials."

"These types are never moving up fast enough or they can't stand their jobs, so they are always out there with their resumes and their phone calls, hounding us or hounding companies to hire the.  These people pretty quickly get themselves labeled."


The third special case is finding a job after you've been let go.

You've got to keep your chin up and get back out there.  Take some time if you need to recover your ego, but don't waste time feeling sorry for yourself.  Own up to your part of the equation and head back out there with all the self-confidence you can muster and keep at it until you have something.

Every manager in the world knows what "I resigned" or "I left for personal reasons" really means, so be candid and explain what has changed at your core that will make the difference now.

Don't allow yourself into the "vortex of defeat" in which you let yourself spiral into inertia and despair.  This is a choice, albeit a difficult one under the circumstances.  Use the challenge to build your character and commit to becoming even better for the experience.


How To Get Promoted

Getting promoted takes one do and one don't

  • Do deliver sensational performance, far beyond expectations, and at every opportunity expand your job beyond its official boundaries.

  • Don't make your boss use political capital in order to champion you.

Political capital is when someone has to use their position or their power to come to your defense over anything that doesn't look quite the way it should...or worse.

Have a positive attitude and spread it around.  Your reputation should be one of always contributing, always having a high level of energy and enthusiasm and being in 100% support of the company and the policies that govern what you do.  DON'T be a whiner.  Complaining is the fastest way out of favor, and ultimately out of the company.

Don't just do the predictable.  Expand your job's horizons to include bold and unexpected activities.  Come up with a new concept or process that doesn't improve just your results, but your unit's results and the company's overall performance.  Change your job in a way that makes the people around you work better and your boss look smarter.  


By -- Jack Welch 


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