One of the greatest and most respected leaders of the modern times is Jack Welch. Jack Welch was responsible for General Electric’s massive growth in the 1980’s and 90’s until he picked his successor to take over as CEO in 2001. Since Jack’s departure from General Electric he has authored several books and is a thought leader in many areas of business and also has a school that carries his name.
Jack was known for being very brash and straight to the point. He was also known for getting things done. I have read several of Jack’s books over the years and they are all full of great information.
A few years ago in one of Jacks books, I read his 6 Rules to Live by. These rules were designed around business and was the way he led his company. At the time I read the 6 rules I wrote the rules down on a 3 X 5 card. I have carried that card with me for several years now and refer to them often.
Here are the 6 Rules:
1. Control your own destiny or someone else will: Take control of your life, your career, your business, your finances, etc. You get the point. Don’t wait for someone to give you permission or wait for someone to show you how. You have to control your own destiny or someone will control you.
2. Face reality as it is: In business or in life how many times have you heard someone say, “Well it should be…” , “I thought we were going to do…”, “If this would happen, then…”. All of these phrases are stating something that is not. You must face reality as it is. Don’t kid yourself.
3. Be candid: Most people are afraid of candor. Instead in today’s world everyone wants to skirt around the truth or not be brutally honest. Sure there are times, when you don’t want to overshoot and hurt someones feelings, but the only way people and organizations get better is when they know exactly where they are and where the stand.
4. Don’t manage, Lead: We all know it or at least we have seen it. You have two types of hierarchy within a company. You have the managers. They are the ones that protect the process and manage everyone the same. Then you have leaders. Leaders are the ones who are out in front, looking for new and better ways. You know who the individuals are that are waiting to be told what to do. The difference between successful businesses and people who grow in those businesses are the ones who are leading and not just managing what they have always done.
5. Change before you have to: If you wait to change, it is too late. I work with lots of businesses and people that are doing what they did years ago. We don’t want to discount what has worked in the past, but the market is changing and we have to be in front of it, if you aren’t, you will get behind and never be able to catch up. It’s no different in life. If you think that your degree that you earned from college 10 years ago is enough education, you are wrong, you have to continue to increase your skills and your knowledge. If you wait until someone makes you increase your skills, the chances are, they won’t. Instead, they will just go and find someone who already possesses the skills they need.
6. If you don’t have a competitive advantage don’t compete: Several years ago in my business I had to make a decision that included making significant strategy changes, which included eliminating several peoples positions. It wasn’t an easy decision, but after looking at several years worth of data, and looking at the current market, the decision was clear. We were competing for customers in a market where we didn’t have a comeptieve advantage. The decision was hard, but it was necessary to invest our resources into the more profitable areas of our businesses. Jack Welch said that when he was CEO of GE that he wanted the company to be #1 or #2 in each of the markets they were competing in, and if they couldn’t be, they got rid of those divisions.
What I like about these 6 rules the most, is that they apply to business as well as us as individuals. What if you started applying these rules in your business? What if you started applying them in your personal life? What would be the results?
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To your success and your future.