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Winning Hardcover – April 5, 2005
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Welch's first book, Jack: Straight from the Gut, was structured more as a conventional CEO memoir, with stories of early career adventures, deals won and lost, boardroom encounters, and Welch's process and philosophy that helped propel his success as a manager. In Winning, Welch focuses on his actual management techniques. He starts with an overview of cultural values such as candor, differentiation among employees, and inclusion of all voices in decision-making. In the second section he covers issues around one's own company or organization: the importance of hiring, firing, the people management in between, and a few other juicy topics like crisis management. From there, Welch moves into a discussion of competition, and the external factors that can influence a company's success: strategy, budgeting, and mergers and acquisitions. Welch takes a more personal turn later with a focus on individual career issues--how to find the right job, get promoted, and deal with a bad boss--and then a final section on what he calls "Tying Up Loose Ends." Those interested in the human side of great leaders will find this last section especially appealing. In it, Welch answers the most interesting questions that he's received in the last several years while traveling the globe addressing audiences of executives and business-school students. Perhaps the funniest question in this section comes at the very end, posed originally by a businessman in Frankfurt, who queried Welch on whether he thought he'd go to heaven (we won't give away the ending).
While different from the steadier stream of war stories and real-life examples of Welch's first book, Winning is a very worthwhile addition to any management bookshelf. It's not often that a CEO described as the century's best retires, and then chooses to expound on such a wide range of management topics. Also, aside from the commentary on always-relevant issues like employee performance reviews and quality control, Welch suffuses this book with his pugnacious spirit. The Massachusetts native who fought his way to the top of the world's most valuable company was in many ways the embodiment of "Winning," and this spirit alone will provide readers an enjoyable read. --Peter Han
From Publishers Weekly
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Top Customer Reviews
I continue to be amazed at the simple clarity of his message: empower others, ask questions, tap into the potential of all of your associates, choose integrity and candor over charts, graphs, and politics, and spend more time in action instead of planning and posturing budgets. I cannot read his words, or hear him speak without feeling again as I did as a member of his team at GE. Without fail, I was inspired and honored to be at a company which really believed that bureaucracy was to be avoided, and those who could look at reality without the politics and act accordingly were highly regarded. The one aspect I did not count on was that after leaving GE due to geographical and travel demands, those simple truths which engage and inspire people to reach stretch goals would be so rare. In fact the most basic aspects of candor and open honest dialog about the business are punished in some organizations.
The book itself is written in a conversational tone. It is easy to read, and feels as though you are in a dialog with him over a cup of coffee. Several key themes emerge which may be surprising to others who know him by reputation only.
One, Jack holds no malice and actually celebrates those whose careers involved leaving GE for roles elsewhere.Read more ›
Put "Winning" on the top shelf next to "Good to Great" and "Built to Last." In fact, Welch's "Winning" is the perfect complement to Collins' two-some. Collins' work is dramatically research-based, Welch's is utterly life-based. In particular, I enjoyed his 8 leadership principles that balance soft skills (communicating vision, building trust, motivating others) and character attributes (making the tough call, being positive, being nurturing to the core). I also enjoyed how Welch answers his critics on the infamous 20-70-10 rule and his hiring frameworks.
One strength of "Winning" is in the breadth of topics covered - both in the realm of organizational leadership as well as career development. Lots of books do one well, but Welch manages to excel in both without being superficial or glossying-over (though most other books aren't 350+ pages!).
Make no mistake about it - the ideas presented are not new. For example, two of Welch's leadership principles: "exude positive energy" and "push and probe with a curiousity that borders on skepticism" sound a lot like Collin's "confront the brutal facts, yet never lose faith" principle. But it's Welch's down-to-earth writing style that helps you understand these timeless principles in a fresh way. As you're reading, you can almost picture him speaking the words in some business school auditorium or some Fortune 100 management retreat.Read more ›
The parts of the book which I found interesting were creating a company's mission statement, documenting its values and coming up with a strategy. I also found Jack Welch's explanation of the value of candor convincing, and his discussion of work-life balance provocative.
His comments on differentiation (using Six Sigma to rank employees), and on the value of the business press were instructive.
In Winning, Jack Welch writes that a mission statement must answer the question, "How do we intend to win in this business?" Otherwise, he suggests that a mission statement can turn into "a set of generic platitudes that do nothing but leave employees directionless or cynical," such as "XYZ Company values quality and service" or "Such-and-Such Company is customer driven."
Using GE as an example, Jack describes an effective mission statement: "To be the most competitive enterprise in the world by being No. 1 or No. 2 in every market - fixing, selling, or closing every underperforming business that couldn't get there."
To me, this mission statement and the way he describes creating it makes sense.
Related to the mission statement are values, specific and concrete behaviors which give employees a roadmap to follow to achieve the mission statement.
Using Bank One as an example, Jack Welch describes values that are explained well.
"Never let profit center conflicts get in the way of doing what is right for the customer."
"Always look for ways to make it easier to do business with us.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book book for people who are working in companies.
The variety of topic is great but accordingly I believe I need to read it again to grasp it.
The book is great, honest, easy to read and up to the point. If you want to get a personal reality check and you are in management r leadership this is highly recommended. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Luca
This book reinforces why I like Jack Welch so much and why he was so successful
A straight talking guy with a ton of common sense.
"Winning" by Jack Welch is basically another self-aggrandizing revisionist history of what actually happened behind closed doors at GE during Welch's 20 year reign as CEO... Read morePublished 2 months ago by HighlyDiscerning
This book offers the reader a distinct opportunity to 'read and learn' directly from someone who sacrificed, fought through major personal challenges, and not only made a... Read morePublished 2 months ago by OlioBlogger