Just read Jack Welch’s Straight from the gut again for a second time recently and it’s such a great book. Jack retired in 2001 from GE after 20 years as CEO where he lead the organisation through rapid growth over that time. The book is full of valuable advice and tips for any aspiring or successful business leader. There’s so many interesting war stories in the book and lessons to be learnt from them from his days as GE’s CEO .

He made it clear at the outset how he hated bureaucracy and wanted the whole company to operate on the same page. No matter how big the organisation was he wanted everyone to feel part of the same team. He was such a great strategic thinker, always looking at the big picture and ensuring the right team was in place to deliver.

He talks about four E’s he used when evaluating his managers performance – Energy (do they have it), Energise (can they energise people around them), Edge (do they have bottle and wherewithal to make hard yes/no decisions) and Execute (are they able to follow through on the plans and deliver). He wanted his managers to be real leaders, implement change, be business drivers.

He classified his employees into A, B and C players and made no secret of letting the employee know in which group they were in. Reward the achievers and deal with the failures. He said he got his ‘hug him and kick him’ approach from his mother who he wrote dearly about.

He talks about culture and how people must really understand and buy into the organisations culture and business DNA (what really makes it tick and its values).

He was a big advocate of employees having to continually up-skill all the time. In his early days as CEO he built a massive educational centre for the company and got outside experts in to retrain employees. He talks at length about having high class quality employees. The business was driven, by driven people. He said he main job was to source and create talent.

He was big into ideas generation and translating and sharing those idea across the different business groups.

He really liked the ‘small business concept with the big business budget’. Get small tight teams together and have them work closely as a unit.

He said if you don’t have a competitive advantage, don’t compete.

In order of importance he said number 1, cash is king, number 2, communicate, number 3, buy or bury the competition. He often favored buying by the number of acquisitions he made!!
He explained how through improving quality and implementing the six sigma quality programmes throughout the organisation, the companies bottom line improved significantly. He used six sigma to improve operations to create an efficient lean business.

Jack was a driven man, one gets the impression from the books that he dedicated his life completely to the company, two divorces and a few heart attacks along the way and a serious amount of fun doing the business.

Will provide review on his other book ‘Winning’ in due course. In this he gives more insight to management techniques.
Patrick Sutton,  O,KellySutton, Accountants & Consultants, Kildare, Co. Kildare. www.okellysutton.ie