Candor is critical. Good ideas can’t emerge without clear facts.
Differentiation creates profits. Focus on the most profitable, and dump the least.
Listening is a key executive skill. Welch was famous for surprise visits to plants and offices. The worker on the floor, in Welch’s view, could provide insights, as well as the supervisor or executive.
In hiring new members for your team, screen for intelligence, energy, passion, capability to enthuse a team, sound decision making, and execution.
In a crisis, assume the problem is worse than it appears, that there will be no secrets, and that any decision will be criticized.
Organic growth is not enjoyed by the unprepared. Make sure your products and ideas have adequate funding, high visibility, and energetic talent in their support.
Seek advice from multiple mentors.
Let your competence speak for you. Don’t expect customers to expend political capital to keep you on board.
Don’t merge (or enter partnerships) with equals. Mergers with equals seldom work except on a purely financial level.
Leadership is about energy, the energy to motivate others, the energy to make tough decisions, the energy to provide a positive atmosphere, and the energy to get the job done.
Hold your subordinates responsible for results, but give them the tools and latitude they need to do their jobs. Winners don’t just appear at the top; they crawl, climb, and improve their way to the top.
Let people know where they stand. Welch rewarded 20% of executives, gave direction to 70%, and fired 10%. If you were in the 70%, you knew you could find your way to the 10% by the next year’s review.
Choose candor and integrity over charts, graphs, spreadsheets, and statistical analysis.
Let fear be a motivator. Constantly prune your lowest performers.
Don’t waste time being an also-ran. Aim to be the best, or on the way to being the best, or do something else.