Monday, April 27, 2009

While in attendance at the Asian American Hotel Owners Association (AAHOA) conference in DC last week, I attended a keynote in which Jack Welch (former CEO of GE and best-selling author) shared his insights as to what business leaders need to be focused on given the current business climate. The following is a bullet point list of Jack Welch’s thoughts that made it into my notebook while listening.

On positive indicators that we are nearing reaching a bottom to the recession…
Consumer confidence index is up.
Affordability index is up.
There are low mortgage rates and lower housing prices.
We still do not know the health of the financial markets.
If there is a recovery, it will be consumer lead.
With regards to the economy, “Uncertainty is the word I think you have to live with.”

The recession offers as many opportunities as it does troubles…
The ensuing playing field will be less crowded.
People – “Take care of your best.”
Competition – “Buy them or bury them.”
Go after your competitor’s best people.
Go on the offense.
Make sure you are doing the things to be prepared for tomorrow.
Multi-tasking is not for leaders, your job is to get your people focused on what is important.

You have to manage for the long and the short. You must eat while you dream. Managing is doing both. - Jack Welch

On managing the people process…
Fire the bottom 10% of your poorest performers every year to raise the bar of excellence in your company.
“Good people can always get a job.”
“Reward people in the soul and in the wallet.”
Match up your value system and your reward system.
Compensate on your values and you will get what you want.
As a leader you want people in your organization that do not need you.

On decision making…
On most decisions, leaders take way too much time.
Leaders usually do not act fast enough.
“I wish I would have waited six months before I did that,” is a comment you never hear leaders make.

In today’s climate leaders need to…
Have generosity of spirit.
Invest in the growth of your people.
Make ordinary people think they can do anything.
Make HR your partner in building a great organization.
Get out and engage your people. You are worthless when you are in your office.

On hiring decisions…
Look for hunger and a burning desire to be successful.
You need people that will excite others.
Hire for the “runway” or long-term future/potential.
Jack mentions that he looks specifically for the “4 E’s and a P.” Get this right and you “bat” pretty well.

>Energy (candidates)
>Energize (ability to energize others)
>Edge (ability to say yes or no)
>Execute (someone that gets things done)

On how to position a company to emerge successfully from the recession…
Take care of your best people.
Over communicate.
Tell everyone what you are doing and why to overcome fear.
Energize your workforce.
Do not get caught up in defense.
Make the bold moves; there will be a tomorrow.
For the second time, take care of your best people.

What a great keynote/general session! Many thanks to the folks at AAHOA for bringing Jack Welch in to share his insights and thoughts on what leaders should be focused on to effectively navigate the recession.

In my opinion there is a reoccurring theme in the notes I took. Do you see it?

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Investment of Time

When you are in a leadership position you are subject to getting things done through others. It can be easier, less aggravating and ultimately quicker to follow the old saying, "If you want something done right you do it yourself." While a do-it-yourself mentality certainly works well for some, in my opinion it is not a practice to which effective leaders can subscribe. Leaders have to have patience to allow for those that they are leading to learn to execute. This also means that at the beginning stages of leading or teaching new projects or skills there will be a greater investment of time in getting the job done correctly and up to the leader's standards. Leaders have to allow for failing-forward and the potential for errors or less than perfection based on their own standards. A mistake creates a learning opportunity. Effective leaders use these instances to teach, coach and counsel. Of course, the leader's ultimate goal is that, in making this investment, he or she will be able to completely hand-off the responsibility for accomplishing said tasks and be confident that they will be executed properly.

The next time you catch yourself wanting to take the reigns, be prepared to permanently hold on or start looking for the person who is willing to learn and who will show continuous improvement and profit from his or her mistakes.

"No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself or get all the credit for doing it." -Andrew Carnegie

"The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done, and self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it." -Theodore Roosevelt