- “Winning” by Jack Welch and Suzy Welch is a comprehensive guide to achieving success in the business world, offering valuable insights and practical advice.
- If you’re seeking to enhance your leadership skills, build high-performing teams, and excel in the world of business, dive into “Winning” to unlock a treasure trove of wisdom and actionable strategies.
There is no easy formula for winning in business, but there are best practices to follow to ensure success. In this book summary, you’ll learn about these practices, including communicating with candor, bravely facing challenges with optimism, and staying curious for continual growth. You’ll get the scoop on business philosophy, running a strong company, outdoing the competition, and carefully tending to your career. Winning in business requires hard work and a willingness to play the game. Are you ready to learn how to win?
Follow the best practices for success in business and your career.
READ THIS BOOK SUMMARY IF YOU:
- Want to lead with candor and transparency
- Wish you could hire and fire employees the right way
- Are curious about how to earn promotions
Table of Contents
When it comes to business, everyone wants to win.
Winning companies create jobs, give people security, and provide the resources for health, happiness, and fulfillment. On the other hand, losing companies only lead to fear, disappointment, and forgotten dreams.
Winning companies and the thriving employees who work for them provide the tax dollars necessary to keep the economy afloat. Thus, winning companies create winning societies.
Winning isn’t easy, but it’s possible. You just need the roadmap for success. This map isn’t just for executives and founders — it’s for small-business owners, middle managers, receptionists, line workers, interns, students, and everyone in between. It’s for anyone who wants to create or take part in a winning company.
Follow this map and gain the tools you need to win.
Underneath It All
The right management philosophy is essential for winning, but it can easily get lost in the daily grind. It’s important to solidify these concepts at the beginning and to intentionally follow them every single day.
A mission statement explains how a company intends to win. It forces leadership to make choices based on the company’s strengths instead of trying to be everything for everyone.
Values are the “how” to the mission statement. They explain how everyone in the company, from the CEO to the file clerk, can enforce the mission. Values should be actionable and measurable behaviors, not vague ideas.
Winning companies have a clear connection between their mission and values so they can quickly correct when things begin to drift.
Candor is a concept that is lacking in many businesses. People simply aren’t used to being open and honest, because we are trained from birth to soften blows and save face. But this only hurts companies in the long run.
Candor opens the floor to more minds, which makes a company rich in ideas and inspiration. It also speeds things up because people can immediately take action instead of wasting time deciphering vague instructions. It also saves money by reducing the hours wasted in pointless meetings and reports.
Leaders can help create an environment of candor by requesting it, rewarding it, and participating in it.
Differentiation is a hot-button concept that many people find distasteful, but it simply works and creates winning companies. The idea of differentiation is separating the top performers from the underperformers.
Differentiation means dividing employees into three primary groups: The top 20%, the middle 70%, and the bottom 10%. Those at the top are the best performers and should be rewarded. Those in the middle are vital for company success because they make up the bulk of the business, and they must continually be motivated and given opportunities to improve. The bottom 10% simply have to go, which is why this concept is controversial.
But it’s not about being cruel or unfair. Winning companies simply can’t spread their time and resources thin over people who aren’t working out. It is also a kindness to those in the bottom 10, who have their own unique skills that will work well somewhere else. Everyone deserves to work where they can excel.
The key to differentiation is candor so no one feels shocked or misled. Clear goals and feedback should make it obvious who belongs and who doesn’t.
The final business concept that may get lost in the hustle and bustle of daily activity is this: Every single employee deserves to have a voice and to have dignity. This means providing everyone with opportunities to give their opinions and ideas candidly, and it means that those ideas and opinions are respected. Not every idea needs to be implemented, but it deserves to be heard.
A winning organization requires the right people, processes, and culture. When these mechanics are strong from the get-go, you save a lot of time that would otherwise be spent fighting fires.
The very foundation of a winning company is strong, healthy leadership. As a leader your focus shifts from yourself to those around you. Your goal is to make others the best that they can be.
Great leaders share some commonalities. They take every opportunity to evaluate, coach, and build up the team. They also make the vision of the organization come to life by giving clear, actionable goals. When employees are meeting these goals, the vision is being accomplished.
Great leaders don’t sugarcoat the tough stuff, but they are optimistic and transparent about challenges. Leaders aren’t afraid of being unpopular. They understand how to make the tough decisions, give clear explanations, and then move forward.
Before leaders can create a winning company they must first hire the right people, and there are some non-negotiable standards to ensure that the best possible candidates make the cut.
At the very least, great candidates should have integrity, intelligence, and maturity. Additionally, they should have positive energy and be able to inspire energy in others. They must have the courage to make tough decisions and put those decisions into action, achieving measurable results. Perhaps above all, great employees are the ones with passion. They are excited about life and work and have a strong desire to constantly learn and grow.
Once you’ve hired the right employees, you’ve got to know how to manage them effectively. People management is not something to be neglected or pushed aside until there is free time. It is the life and breath of a winning company.
There are a few company-wide practices that ensure effective people management. The first is meticulous evaluation systems that provide candid and consistent feedback based on agreed-upon criteria. Everyone should know where they stand and have opportunities for professional development.
Leaders should be attentive to the middle 70% of employees. It can be easy to focus all of your energy lauding top performers or dealing with underperformers, but those in the middle are equally important. They are generally hard workers who keep the company going. As a people manager, you cannot neglect the bulk of your people for the extremes.
There is one aspect of people management that everyone dreads, and that’s letting someone go.
Candor and transparency through performance goals and evaluations are important so that the firing isn’t a shock. When you do fire someone based on performance, it’s important to minimize humiliation as much as possible. Build up their confidence and remind them that they will be a great fit somewhere else. Everyone deserves to work where their skills are needed.
Change is another inevitable, potentially uncomfortable part of running a winning company. Change is necessary for growth and success, but many workers resist it.
Foster a culture where change is normal, expected, and accepted by giving a clear purpose behind every big change. Don’t leave people in the dark, and don’t change for the sake of change. Additionally, change will be easier if you’ve hired the kind of people who embrace, or at least go along with, change.
If some employees prove to be strong resisters to change, it’s best to part ways. Resisters breed widespread hostility and lower morale, while those who embrace change foster a culture of optimism and courage.
The last aspect of a winning company is effective crisis management. You can avoid most crises through healthy internal processes that function on candor, transparency, and integrity. Company policies should be absolutely clear and any who break these policies weeded out.
But even with the best prevention, crises will happen at some point and it’s important to handle them wisely.
Always assume problems are worse than you think and that the organization will be painted in the worst possible light. Do not deny a crisis or wait for others to define your position: Take responsibility, give the facts, and state your intentions for cleaning things up. Letting others, especially the media, run with a story will lead to a version that is most likely worse than the truth. Be as transparent as your legal team allows.
You should also embrace the silver lining of a crisis, which is the learning opportunity it provides. Great leaders remain optimistic in the face of crises and become stronger through the process.
When a company is made of strong leaders, well-managed people, effective processes, and a healthy culture, it has the makings of a winning organization regardless of climate or competition.
There is, of course, more to a winning company than all that goes on internally. For an organization to truly excel, you must consider what happens outside, too. Stacking up against the competition requires a thoughtful strategy, effective budget, and continual growth.
Strategy is highly prioritized in business, as it should be, but it is often over complicated. A great strategy is simple: Come up with a big idea to gain a competitive advantage, put strong people in place to implement the idea, and find the best practices to achieve results.
Putting talented people at the helm ensures that everything will move in the right direction, because even the best strategies fall flat without the right skill sets to propel them. Best practices are not simply to be adapted; they are continually improved. A winning organization is never stagnant. It is continually growing, thriving, and innovating.
So while strategy is important, don’t agonize over it. When you have decided how to gain your competitive advantage, set a broad direction and pursue it like mad using the best people and best practices possible.
Budgeting processes are another aspect of business that can be draining. Often, typical budgeting systems bring out the worst in an otherwise great company.
Most organizations would do well to hold transparent discussions between the executives and the field wherein everyone seeks to answer two questions: “How can we do better than we did last year?” and “How can we do better than our competition?”
This system disregards arbitrary numbers and targets, focusing instead on realworld opportunities and challenges. The numbers in this system are flexible, allowing targets to adapt to the changing market. Too many organizations are married to budgets that have become irrelevant thanks to a change in the competition instead of remaining fluid and open to new opportunities.
This kind of budgeting also encourages growth by rewarding employees based on their past performance. This way they can learn, improve, and innovate instead of focusing on an arbitrary number.
This kind of transparent, real-world, flexible budgeting system changes an organization from simply meeting standards to growing and improving.
Growth is imperative in the business world. Truly winning companies are ones that value growth, which usually occurs in two ways: organically or through mergers.
Organic growth happens when an organization starts something new from within. Watching a new venture grow organically is one of the most exciting aspects of business, but many leaders stifle this kind of growth by withholding resources, undervaluing the venture, or micromanaging.
Opportunities for organic growth pop up all the time, be it a new branch, product line, or brand, or something else entirely. Grab these opportunities and bring them to life by choosing the most passionate and talented people to lead them. Pump these ventures full of resources at the beginning to give them the best chance of success. Cheer the ventures on loudly and publicly, but give them room to breathe. There is no need to micromanage when you have the best people at the helm.
Organizations can also achieve growth through mergers and acquisitions. These methods are much faster than organic growth, but they come with their own unique challenges. Anyone who has ever participated in a merger will tell you that the agreement is only the beginning.
Whether you are the acquirer or the acquired, don’t make the mistake of focusing solely on the strategic fit and neglecting cultural compatibility. Company culture has a huge impact on the day-to-day operations of any company, so it’s very important to be clear about your values. An organization that prioritizes risk-taking won’t mesh well with a company that only cares about meeting quarterly goals.
Many acquirers make the mistake of completely disregarding the other company’s employees, thus missing out on a lot of potential talent. The best mergers choose the best of the best, regardless of which side they came from, to keep things moving.
For employees affected by mergers, the most important thing to remember is your attitude. The playing field just got a lot more crowded, and managers tend to stick with positivity over talent. Despite fear or uncertainty, remaining supportive and optimistic are your best chances for survival.
Mergers are a fantastic opportunity for growth and innovation, but they often fail from mismanagement. Avoid these pitfalls to ensure maximum benefits for both parties.
The ultimate goal is not just to work for a winning company but to have a winning career. The days of remaining at the same company for a lifetime are largely over, and most people change roles at least a few times when all is said and done. Still, each chapter matters, and it’s important to choose wisely to ensure an upward trajectory.
Knowing if a job is a good fit can be tricky, but paying attention to a few key aspects can make the decision easier. The best job for you will have people who fit your personality, room for growth, options for the future, and some tasks that excite you personally.
Of course, money is important, too, but a great salary isn’t enough if your coworkers are miserable and the work is boring. And no matter how great a job currently is, it helps to think about the future. Are there opportunities for advancement? Does this company or industry improve your resume? These are important things to consider.
Once you’ve found the right job and gotten proficient in your role, you will inevitably start thinking about promotions. Most people want bigger and better opportunities as time goes by. Some promotions arise out of sheer, dumb luck — but not many.
Make your own luck by exceeding expectations. Don’t just do what is expected, instead expand the definitions of your job and surprise your leaders. By showing your boss that you can handle more responsibility, you’ll open yourself up to increasingly better opportunities.
At the very least, don’t force your boss to use their influence to defend you. You may have outstanding results, but if your boss has to give excuses to make up for some of your behavior, especially something that go against company values, then you aren’t going to get very far.
Having a great boss is always helpful for continual growth, but unfortunately bad bosses are just part of the game sometimes. You can’t always avoid working with them.
If you do reach a point in your career when you must contend with a bad boss, don’t be the victim. Think of a bad boss as a problem to solve.
Your first goal is to find out if you are the problem. Most of us have negative traits that we don’t even realize, so it’s very possible that one of yours is making your boss react. Talk to them if necessary, but make sure you have your options open first. It’s very possible, albeit unfortunate, that your boss is looking for a chance to oust you.
If you are certain you aren’t the problem, all you can do is consider the tradeoffs. Are there other aspects of your job that make staying with a bad boss worth it? If so, then stay and maintain your integrity. Consistently remind yourself of the reasons you chose to stay instead of lamenting the relationship.
If the trade-offs aren’t worth it, leave — on good terms, that is. Either way, you’ve solved your problem by making your own choice. Once again, do not play the victim. Make your own choices and live with the consequences.
Another extremely important aspect of a winning career is a healthy work-life balance. Some people want to commit all of their time to work while others want an even split or to focus on the home. There is no right answer; It’s an extremely personal decision.
That being said, once you’ve chosen the kind of balance you want, get really good at compartmentalizing. When you’re at home, be home; when you’re at work, be at work. Mixing everything together is overwhelming and frustrating.
Remember that managers want you to be happy because it affects your work. Most managers agree that work-life balance is the responsibility of the individual to manage.
Work-life balance gets easier with experience: You will eventually learn what works for you.
Winning isn’t always easy, but it’s certainly possible. Leaders would do well to utilize candor, optimism, and authenticity, while also being willing to make the hard decisions that come with differentiation and meritocracy.
Anyone in the workforce must be willing to accept change, exceed expectations, and own their own choices. They must also be continually curious, seeking to learn and grow from every new situation or struggle.
Business is a game. Go out and win it.
Jack Welch is a businessman and author. He served as the CEO of General Electric for 20 years and led the company to becoming the world’s most valuable corporation during his tenure. Welch founded the Jack Welch Management Institute at Chancellor University, an online MBA program. Welch also wrote The New York Times bestseller Jack: Straight from the Gut.
Suzy Welch is an author and journalist. Along with Winning, she co-wrote The Real Life MBA. She previously served as the editor in chief of the Harvard Business Review and has contributed to other sources such as BusinessWeek, The Wall Street Journal, and O, The Oprah Winfrey Magazine.
Motivational, Business Biography, Business Life, Management, Organizational Behavior, Strategic management, Business Life, Careers and Skills, Awards, Leadership, Strategic Management, Self Help, Personal Development, Autobiography, Finance, Business Teams
Table of Contents
INTRODUCTION: “Every Day, There Is a New Question” 1
UNDERNEATH IT ALL
1 MISSION AND VALUES
So Much Hot Air About Something So Real 13
The Biggest Dirty Little Secret in Business 25
Cruel and Darwinian? Try Fair and Effective 37
4 VOICE AND DIGNITY
Every Brain in the Game 53
It’s Not Just About You 61
What Winners Are Made Of 81
7 PEOPLE MANAGEMENT
You’ve Got the Right Players, Now What? 97
8 PARTING WAYS
Letting Go Is Hard to Do 119
Mountains Do Move 133
10 CRISIS MANAGEMENT
From Oh-God-No to Yes-We’re-Fine 147
It’s All in the Sauce 165
Reinventing the Ritual 189
13 ORGANIC GROWTH
So You Want to Start Something New 205
14 MERGERS AND ACQUISITIONS
Deal Heat and Other Deadly Sins 217
15 SIX SIGMA
Better Than a Trip to the Dentist 245
16 THE RIGHT JOB
Find It and You’ll Never Really Work Again 255
17 GETTING PROMOTED
Sorry, No Shortcuts 277
18 HARD SPOTS
That Damn Boss 299
19 WORK-LIFE BALANCE
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Having It All (But Were Afraid to Hear) 313
TYING UP LOOSE ENDS
20 HERE, THERE, AND EVERYWHERE
The Questions That Almost Got Away 339
“Winning: The Ultimate Business How-To Book” is a collaborative work by the renowned former General Electric CEO, Jack Welch, and his wife, Suzy Welch. This book provides an insightful and comprehensive guide to achieving success in the business world. In this review, we’ll explore the key takeaways and offer a critical assessment of the book.
Jack Welch, famous for his leadership at GE, shares his vast knowledge and experience in a straightforward and pragmatic manner. He focuses on what it takes to win in the world of business. The book covers a wide range of topics, including leadership, management, and personal development.
The authors emphasize the importance of candor and honesty in leadership. They stress that open and honest communication is crucial for creating a thriving organization. Welch’s “4E” framework – Energy, Energizers, Edge, and Execute – is a highlight of the book. It provides a roadmap for assessing and developing leaders within a company.
Furthermore, “Winning” offers valuable insights into the hiring process, emphasizing the need to build a top-notch team and retain top talent. The book also delves into the topics of strategy, budgeting, and the importance of differentiating your company in a competitive market.
Jack Welch and Suzy Welch discuss the significance of continuous learning and adapting to change. They underline the necessity of embracing change to remain competitive and successful in the business world.
“Winning” is a powerful book that combines Jack Welch’s wisdom and leadership principles with Suzy Welch’s fresh perspective. The book is a valuable resource for both seasoned business professionals and newcomers to the corporate world. It provides practical advice and actionable strategies that can be implemented in any business environment.
One of the book’s strengths is its emphasis on candor and transparency in leadership. The authors provide numerous examples and case studies to illustrate the importance of these qualities. Additionally, the “4E” framework is a practical tool for assessing and developing leaders within an organization.
The book’s insights on talent management and team building are also highly valuable. Welch’s approach to hiring and retaining top talent is a must-read for HR professionals and business leaders alike. The discussions on strategy and differentiation help companies navigate the complexities of today’s competitive markets.
While “Winning” offers a wealth of valuable information, some readers may find the book’s length and depth of content to be a bit overwhelming. It’s essential to take the time to digest and apply the principles presented.
In conclusion, “Winning: The Ultimate Business How-To Book” is a comprehensive guide to business success. Jack Welch and Suzy Welch provide a wealth of knowledge and practical advice for leaders and aspiring leaders. This book is a must-read for anyone looking to excel in the world of business.