Legendary CEO and business icon Jack Welch, who led General Electric through two decades of extraordinary prosperity and became the most influential business manager of his generation, died on Sunday in New York City. He was 84.
Welch, esteemed as one of the greatest business leaders of our time, was an ordinary man who came from modest means. Throughout his life and career he espoused leadership principles that enabled him to not only conquer obstacles in his youth but also triumph in a brutal marketplace that destroys billion-dollar corporations in the blink of an eye.
Entrepreneurs can learn invaluable lessons from Welch’s vision and inexhaustible energy that enabled him to take GE from a $13 billion organization to a $494 billion cash engine.
Today’s business world requires leaders with guts and an unyielding spirit who can turn on a dime and create real value. Welch was such a leader and succeeded brilliantly where others failed. Here’s a look at quotes from Jack Welch to live and lead by.
1. “Common mission trap for companies: trying to be all things to all people at all times.”
Lesson: The lack of consistent mission focus has real consequences for startups and small businesses. Decide who you want to serve and focus on a compelling “why.”
2. “Don’t lose yourself on the way to the top.”
Lesson: Entrepreneurship is a high-stakes game where comparison runs rampant and expectations are plenty. It’s easy for entrepreneurs to lose sight of themselves––forget who they are and what they stand for––along the way. Successful entrepreneurs focus on personal growth instead of fitting in with the crowd.
3. “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.”
Lesson:A vision statement is more than a sheet of paper. It’s a blueprint for every decision you’ll make along the way. Vision must be communicated, owned, and measurable.
4. “Change before you have to.”
Lesson: Change is not an event––it’s a process. Commit to developing a mindset that embraces change. Practice taking steps in new and unexplored directions. Most of all, be courageous with your business.
5. “An organization’s ability to learn, and translate that learning into action rapidly, is the ultimate competitive advantage.”
Lesson: Information is useless without determinant action. For every new learning, ask yourself how it can be applied to your systems, processes, and people.
6. “Control your own destiny or someone else will.”
Lesson: Be accountable for your thoughts, decisions, and actions that drive the outcomes of events in the future. Effective leaders place time and energy into the things they can control, and refuse to worry about outcomes outside of their command.
7. “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others.”
Lesson: Leadership starts from within and expands outward to others. Successful leaders grow themselves first and then focus on the growth and development of others.
8. “Indeed, the biggest winners in the world are those who answer yes to the question, ‘Am I living the life I choose?'”
Lesson: Winning in life is living a life that you deliberately choose. Identify what type of life you want to live and take smalls steps each day that will move you closer to that desired state. Ask yourself, “What I’m doing today, will it create the future I desire?”
9. “Management is all about managing in the short term, while developing the plans for the long term.”
Lesson: Management is a balancing act of short and long-term priorities. A successful long-game requires a commitment to today –– the now.
10. “The idea flow from the human spirit is absolutely unlimited. All you have to do is tap into that well. I don’t like to use the word efficiency. It’s creativity. It’s a belief that every person counts.”
Lesson: Create a culture that embraces the flow of ideas, creativity and individual contribution. Value your people and they’ll create immense business value.
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