Winning: The Ultimate Business How-To Book by Jack and Suzy Welch is a book about how to succeed in business the Jack Welch way. The book offers advice for your career from Jack’s experience.
Jack Welch was the famed GE CEO that come up from the ranks at GE. Welch’s tenor as CEO was from 1981 – 2001. During Jack’s time at GE a lot of people under him went on the become executives or CEO of other companies. Winning gives tips for navigating your career as a whole. Not a how to guide for your career but a wholesitc approach to career/business management.
In Winning Jack describes his philosophical management approach. Welch provides many examples from his career at GE and speaking engagments around the world since retirement. One story that stuck out was about Jack’s first big mistake. Early in his career Jack was running a factory at 28 and was responsible for creating an explosion at his plant. Jack was sure he was going to get chewed out by his leadership but instead was asked what he had learned. Imagine the impression this left on Jack, throughout his career Jack took the same approach with his staff. Success has cost and Jack is very open those costs. He admits to failing in the work life balance area and that he didn’t have a very good relationship with his kids while they were small. Part of this could be attributed to a generational mind set because it wasn’t seen as a priority in his era. The book overall covers how to succeed in the world of business and life the Jack Welch way.
With every book I read I like to pull out the points that I can apply in my business/life.
Winning’s 3 key themes
- Optimistic outlook – One key theme Jack hits you over the head with is to never consider yourself a victim. Even in times where you are the victim it is does you no good to play the victim card. Instead he encourages readers to take a can do attitude with them into everything they do. Sitting around blaming others is not going to fix the situation, the most important thing is to move forward. Do not let setbacks derail you. Jack devotes a couple of chapters on career development and having a positive attitude is the first key to having a successful career. No matter what position Jack was hiring for he always placed a positive attitude as the first trait he was looking for in a candidate.
- Candor – The most used word in the book because it is at the core of all the principles Jack teaches. None of the other principles will work unless you are in a candid environment. Welch differentiates between being candid versus mean spirited. Candor allows you to have honest and open evaluations in your organization. People know where they stand because of the candor in your organization. Think about how well you could benefit from open and honest feedback from your staff and leadership.
- Executive Training Programs – During Jack Welch’s tenor as CEO at General Electric, GE was known as a hotbed of talent. Many Senior-level executives and future CEOs came from GE. While hiring great talent accounted for some of that success, the main reason was because of their executive training programs. Jack says the seed for the idea was from Pepsi but the success of the program was from the GE leadership. Management would identify potential future leaders in the company and enroll them in the executive training programs where they would be trained to become executives. In baseball terms Welch called this stacking his bench. He was always trying to ensure when they lost a great leader they always had someone ready to step in and replace him.
This was the second time I read this book and probably won’t be the last time I read it. It’s one of those books you need to read every so often to keep yourself motivated. Some good career tips about how to find the career you want and how to go about evaluating companies you want to work for. Hopefully you will read this book and apply some of the same strategies to your career. If you liked this article be sure to sign up for my email list.