How to “Win” in Business: An Overview of Jack Welch’s Book, “Winning”

How to “Win” in Business: An Overview of Jack Welch’s Book, “Winning”

A person in business can be defined in a numerous amount of ways, successful, meticulous, or even incompetent. Welch describes that a true businessperson is not one

who works to live, but lives to work. This businessperson not only understands how to be a great worker, but also knows how to manage them as well. Welch establishes the essential building blocks, to promote forward-thinking practices with future aspiring business people. The central lesson that can be learned through this book is how to “win” in business by focusing on how to manage a corporation, manage people, and most importantly manage leadership within oneself.

Corporations will either strive or fail depending on the direction it is taken. All corporations always make a mission statement and establish values of the firm, but Welch argues many of these organizations tend to fail for having vague and directionless ones. A good company has “a good mission statement and a good set of values [that] are so real they smack you in the face with their concreteness” (14). Welch demonstrates that a corporation must ask an essential question to differentiate from their competition, “How do we intend to win in this business?” (14). This itself is the first step in taking direction into managing a corporation to a powerhouse in its industry. The second step is developing a visionary strategy so a corporation’s mission and values are accurately and persistently achieved. “In real life, strategy is actually very straightforward. You pick a general direction and implement like hell” (165). By having a direction and strategy a successful corporation develops clarity to the public and within the company. This clarity helps extend what skill a corporation excels in and thus managing the corporation becomes straightforward, which spurs a new capacity of idea-spurring decisions; a corporation can develop its ideas for innovation more easily with the mission, values, and strategy in mind. Another part of strategy is to implement the right people to the right tasks, which involve managing people.

In order to “win”, one must not only have the correct pieces to play the game, but they must know how to use them. Managing people is one of the most crucial and eminent parts of business and when done correctly will produce true results. Welch teaches us in order for a corporation to acquire this ideal success that everybody craves they must be open and refrain from lack of candor. Candor is the ability to openness and straightforwardness, which is a common trend in this book. When people in a business “instinctively don’t express themselves with frankness” ideas crumble and the lack of creativity ends up being detrimental to the organization (25). Candor is a way that transparency is formed within the corporation; it gets people talking, increases efficiency, and cut costs while making it easier to manage the people that work in the business. Welch demonstrates that managing people starts with honesty and openness, but it leads to rewarding people who deserve it. The more people participate and show initiative, which actually proves to beneficial to the company displays a concept called differentiation that is a branch off of Darwinian practices; survival of the “businessest”. This differentiation and reward for it motivates all the other employees to start demonstrating value or fail to keep up. However, differentiation is beneficial, but only for about 20% of the corporation’s workers, about 70% are not as enthusiastic about this concept. To fix this problem, Welch provides a solution called “Work-outs”, which is the collective and collaborative idea gathering of employees at all levels, not just top-level managers. This allows an organization to appear and even be more flat, which is essential for a firm to reach its fullest potential. With all levels of employees on the same page as the top executives, the core values and mission statement “smack you in the face with [its] concreteness” (14). All these factors are very important in “winning” at the business level, but managing people and managing a corporation starts from within.

A person, who carries the heavy burden of being a leader, once was a person who followed. This concept of leadership is the sole importance to how “winning” works; it is the base of all true success. “When you become a leader, success is all about growing yourself.” (61). Welch understands that the process of becoming a true leader requires drastic change and adaptation. The leader within has to understand they are not leading for the glory, but for necessity of progress, once this is understood then a leader strives in the game of “winning”. Welch strongly emphasizes that being a leader is no longer about your personal gain and more focused on developing team members and employees. The capitalistic yet visionary mindset is what a leader lives off and excretes to their team. Welch describes that a true leader is one who makes all the people around him or her better at what they do. Without an effective leader, the base, the people are not being managed correctly and thus the organization becomes into turmoil. Tying in with the theme of straightforwardness, a leader is always true to their vision and sets the clear goal, which is to “win”.

In the business world, everyone who is hired or starts a company has one of two choices, either to win or lose. As children, people never saw themselves as a low-pay, middle manager employee at a random firm, but saw themselves as something extraordinary that makes an actual impact in the world. There is a leader within all people; the drive just needs to be guided in the right direction. The impact of this book is to help with the guidance and improve the leadership quality in everyone who is involved in the business world, which will adversely lead to the innovation of a new and better generation not only in the business field, but in all fields.

Winning, a concept that reestablished that if you are not a winner, you are broke. This book provides a great guide on how to manage and it has credible backing as well. Jack Welch, who worked at GE for forty years and eventually became CEO, knows exactly what he is talking about in terms of business. Welch depicts the secret to “winning” is to take advantage of any opportunity that presents itself by defining exactly what kind of leader a person may need to be.

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