Lead by Energizing Others (The Welch Way)

Manage by Authority
Lead by Energizing Others

When Welch became CEO, the system of management in place, commonly reffered to as "command and control," was the same system that large corporations had used for years. That system had evolved from the military, which relied on rank and title to determine authority.

When Welch became CEO, GE was full of managers who felt that "command and control" was the best way to run a large company.

After all, without all those managers barking orders to workers, how else could a large corporation get things done?

But Welch found a better way. He did not think that the best way to lead was by whet he called "the stripes on your shoulder." He had many words to describe his leadership ideal, including "Boundaryless," the word he created to describe an open organization free of bureaucracy and anything else that prevented the free flow of ideas, people, decisions, etc.

He felt that genuine leadership came from the quality of one's vision, and the ability to spark others to extraordinary performance.

The best managers do not lead by intimidation ("I am the boss and you will do what I say"), they lead by inspiring others to want to perform ("here's my vision for what we can become, and here's one way you can help make it a reality").

The Welch style of leadership is particularly important in today's complex organization. Whether you are a manager or not, chances are that you depend on others to help you perform in your job. The people who help you would be more motivated if they knew the bigger picture (hw their efforts help) and that you truly appreciate their efforts.

To spark performance in others, particularly those who do not call you "boss," adopt the following Welch behaviors:

Never lead by intimidation:
Welch had no use for those who barked orders, "the autocrat, the tyrant." That was the old way to run a business.

Let others know exactly how their efforts are helping the organization:
Most everyone wants to help, but they also want to know how their actions are helping the organization achieve its goals.

Send handwritten thank-you notes to colleagues and customers:
Welch is a master at sending handwritten notes to than people. Few take the time, so it almost always has an impact.

We now know where productivity --real and limitless productivity-- comes from. It comes from challenged, empowered, excited, rewarded teams of people.

From: Jeffrey A. Krames. The Welch Way: 24 lessons from the world's greatest CEO. New York, McGraw-Hill, 2004.

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