On a + note

According to Jack… #31: 2011

Posted in on a + note by Admin on September 19, 2011

Businessman, author, and leadership guru Jack Welch graduated from the University of Massachusetts with a degree in chemical engineering and went on to get his Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 1960. Welch joined General Electric that same year and twenty-one years later became its youngest CEO. He earned a reputation for brutal candour, innovation, and swift action. Each year, he would fire the bottom 10% of managers and reward the top 20% with bonuses and stock options. When he retired in 2004, GE had gone from a $14 billion company to a conglomerate of more than $410 billion, making it the most valuable and largest company in the world.

As I read his recent biography, I was struck by two ideas that have coloured his whole life. According to Jack Welch:

  1. “Candour counts.”  Candour (the quality of being open and honest; of being fair and straightforward in attitude and speech) is, in his estimation, the most important attribute of a successful leader. How do you incorporate candour into your leadership style?
  • Sharing the library adventure, the ups and the downs, with staff builds team and staff understanding.
  • If you don’t know the answer, say so. Immediately find the answer. The sin is not in not knowing; the sin is not finding out!
  • You don’t have to be brutal, but you do have to be honest if you want staff to follow and do their very best work.
  • Practice what you preach. You are only as good as your last action!
  1. “An organization’s ability to learn and translate that learning into action rapidly is the ultimate competitive advantage.”

Applying this to library leadership, gone are the days when we could afford to research an issue for months and draft a 50-page report. Today’s library leaders must be fleet and flexible, able to make good decisions quickly, and translate them into actions.

I hope you contemplate and enjoy these two interesting ideas that have some relevance to us in library land. Have a great week!

Kitty Pope                                                                          #31 September 2011


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