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What Made jack welch JACK WELCH: How Ordinary People Become Extraordinary Leaders Hardcover – August 21, 2007

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Though the title suggests a focus on the famous General Electric CEO's many accomplishments and leadership skills, this management guide draws on the experiences of many other leaders, including Rudy Giuliani and Gen. Tommy Franks, as well as leaders in corporations like Florida Power and Light or Hearst. With intriguing chapter titles like Are You Really Jack Welch or Just Wearing His Suit? A Lack of Shaping Experiences Can Spell Disaster or Doing the Right Thing When No One is Looking: Shaping Experiences that Build Character, the book attempts to show the reader how to seek out and recognize experiences that will help in their own rise to the top. Yet many of the traits Baum focuses on, such as good character or personal courage, seem inherent and hard to develop. In addition, these shaping experiences seem difficult to seek out or even realize in the moment. While there's inspiration here, the abstract nature of these leaders' qualities may leave readers full of admiration for those who possess them, yet unsure of how to recognize and improve on these essential characteristics in their own lives. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Baum is a leadership coach who works behind the scenes guiding CEOs and senior management through times of challenge and change. The more he got to know top-level executives intimately, both personally and professionally, the more he wanted to know what had shaped these men and women into great leaders. He discovered that most came from quite ordinary backgrounds and were not necessarily the smartest kids in class or destined to enter the corporate sphere. Few came from wealthy families, went to Ivy League schools, or earned MBAs. What they do share in common, however, is a pattern of life experiences he calls archetypal shaping experiences that caused them to experience exceptional personal growth leading to strong character and the confidence to seek challenges, take on risk, act when necessary, and engage and inspire others. Baum effectively digs into the character-building experiences that created such leaders as Jim Broadhead, the executive who turned around Florida Power & Light; David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue; New York mayor Rudy Giuliani; former Nebraska senator Bob Kerry; General Tommy Franks; and many others. Siegfried, David

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Crown Business; First Edition edition (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307337200
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307337207
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,193,139 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Gordon Stanley on September 4, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Stephen Baum's leadership book, "What Made jack welch into JACK WELCH: How Ordinary People become Extraordinary Leaders," is this year's business book masterpiece. I regularly read a sampling from the hundreds of business success books published each year. And, in this case, Baum's work is missing the usual after-the-fact braggadocio, and instead is loaded of insight, introspection and reflection, all crafted in useful advice for the aspiring leader.

As I read Baum's work, per his advice to begin my own inventory, I took laptop to lap, instead of pen to hand, and began making notes and holding my own personal introspection sessions related to each chapter. It took me five times longer to read Baum's work than any business book I have read in years as I found myself stopping over and over to add a note here and there about my experiences, as I inventoried my own archetypal shaping experiences.

While I tired of the phrase "swimming over your head" I couldn't offer a more appropriate phrase to viscerally describe the experience of trying new experiences in preparation for assuming the mantel of leadership. I also must commend Baum for the depth of his sourcing from his own interviews, written texts of successful leaders, and confidential conversations from his professional network. This deep insight is successful in reinforcing Baum's theories and concepts in each case. In the personal gut searching spirit of James Lipton's, "Inside the Actors' Studio," this book works.
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Format: Hardcover
This book reads like an insider's look at the life shaping moments of CEOs and is a who's who of the "C Suite" in American business. I found it to be a very engaging book that links the common threads of people's desire for leadership to the shaping experiences (good and bad) that motivated them to achieve. In the spirit of Harvey Mackay's "How to Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive," the book is written by an author who is an accomplished businessman and trusted advisor. The stories he shares about people behind the public personas are very insightful. I liked the variety of stories and the coverage of men and women in business-stories on Shelly Lazarus and Cathleen Black as well as Jack Welch and David Neeleman. The personal stories of the leaders of American businesses and the synchronistic experiences that landed them in their positions is very inspiring. The author Stephen Baum is a CEOs coach but this book is valuable reading to both current and aspiring leaders. With chapters on Integrity (Doing the Right Thing When No One is Looking) and Angels (If You Want to Climb Everest, Get Yourself a Sherpa)-it is a refreshing take on American business and a reminder of the good that great leaders aspire to. There is alot of wisdom here. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I had high expectations for this book based on many of the other reviews.... those expectations were not met. The potential of this book was great but due to the lack of focus and actionable advice I simply didn't find the value. There were the occasional bits of tangible wisdom but I'm not sure there was enough for the investment of your time. There are many other leadership books worth reading rather than this one.
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Format: Hardcover
In the Introduction, Stephen H. Baum confides that, at one point, the more he had gotten to know great leaders, the more he realized what he did not know. For example, "Who made these men and women who and what they are?" So he set out to find an answer to that question and later realized that what he really wanted to know was the answer to a related question: "How did they develop [various traits of great leadership] in the first place?" In this book, written with Dave Conti, Baum shares everything he learned during research on and -- in some instances from interviews of -- various great leaders, such Gordon Bethune (Continental Airlines), Cathleen Black (Hearst Magazines), Jim Broadhead (Florida Power & Light), Shelly Lazarus (Ogilvy & Mather), Arthur Martinez (Sears, Roebuck & Company), and Jack Welch (GE).

Note: Baum uses lower case to identify exemplars pre-greatness (jack welch) and then upper case upon their becoming great leaders (e.g. Jack Welch or, more irritating, JACK WELCH). In the review that follows, I capitalize all proper nouns, including individuals' names.

In the first chapter, Baum explains how "shaping experiences mold successful leaders," then devotes the remainder of his narrative (Chapters 2-8) to an examination of the process by which "ordinary people become extraordinary leaders." This process bears striking resemblances to the process that Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas discuss in Geeks & Geezers (later reissued as Leading for a Lifetime) and what Bill George describes in Authentic Leadership and then True North.

How to explain the fact that so many CEOs and other C-level executives are ineffective leaders?
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