Posted by: Nancy | May 7, 2015

Seeking and Telling the Truth

I got to shake hands with Jack and Suzy Welch last week. It was part of an event in Kansas City that gave the two of them a chance to share their perspectives on a number of business topics while promoting their new book, The Real-Life MBA.

Jack Welch is best knjack welchown as the former chairman and CEO of General Electric; he was once named “Manager of the Century” by Fortune magazine for his innovative management techniques and GE’s epic revenue growth. His current passion is to change the model for business education — he is operating the Jack Welch Management Institute, an accredited online MBA with 900 students.

He and Suzy gave lively responses to questions posed by my friend Vivien Jennings of Rainy Day Books. Jack spoke in a scruffy, cracking voice, often chuckling, and speeding up as he got excited. He’s frequently described as passionate, competitive, fiery — and all that was apparent in his comments.

I took notes during the talk and later realized that nearly all of Jack and Suzy’s key messages come down to seeking and telling the truth:

On employees: Do you know what your boss thinks of you? Most don’t, and as a result, employees will agonize over a head fake from the boss. One day the employee thinks “He likes me, I’m OK in my job,” and the next day, after the boss scowls, it’s “He hates me, what am I doing wrong?”

Welch says its the responsibility of the boss — and the moral obligation — to be truthful with employees. You have no right to call yourself a manager if your employees are wondering where they stand with you.

Characteristics of a leader: Welch says the best leaders think of themselves as the Chief Meaning Officer, the guy who talks relentlessly about meaning, giving the employees something bigger than themselves.

He ranted a little about the budgeting process in most corporations, “a conjure” that’s mostly meaningless and leads to bad behaviors — lowering expectations so that it will be easier to exceed them.

He calls for transparency and candor, in part because everyone already knows most of what’s happening behind the scenes anyway. Just drop the spin, give truth only. IMG_2018

On speed: Create an atmosphere of truth and trust, he said, and that will lead to speed. “In today’s world, speed is everything. Everything is exponentially faster and if you’re carrying baggage you’re not going to win.”

I haven’t finished the book, but I can tell you it reads like he talks: directly, openly, with real-life stories that everyone can recognize from dysfunctional organizations or situations poisoned by bad behaviors. I’m giving it two thumbs up its emphasis placing TRUTH at the center of its guidance on how to succeed in the business world.

Thanks to Country Club Bank and Rainy Day Books for the event and the opportunity to participate. 


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