Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

No More Mr. Nice Guy. (Editor's Column)

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

No More Mr. Nice Guy. (Editor's Column)

Article excerpt

BUSINESS HALL-OF-FAMER JACK Welch made an appearance at a recent retail banking conference and it was an impressive performance. The feisty former GE chief answered questions from an onstage interviewer and from the audience for an hour. Initially Welch looked almost ill at ease. About ten minutes into the conversation, he took the opportunity to explain the much publicized give-back of the perk package lavished upon him by GE several years ago. It appeared to have a cathartic effect on Welch who subsequently left no doubt who was in charge in the large auditorium.

So what pearls of managerial wisdom did Jack dispense? More than anything else he stressed that leadership is about fielding the best possible team. And that, in turn, is about teaching managers how to inspire the people working for them.

"Find a reason to celebrate," he told the audience, "to let people feel proud and go home excited. That's your job." People spend more time at work than they do with their families, he pointed out, so they should enjoy it and be challenged by it.

Sound like a lot of rah, rah? There's another side to it that is at least as important: Candor and accountability.

When Welch first took over as CEO, he found that performance appraisals were a joke. Employees would check off the box saying, "I want my boss's job," and their boss would check off on his sheet, "so and so is capable of handling my job."

Welch instituted realistic, candid evaluations every 12 months. These are part of the tiering of employees at GE--the top 20, middle 70, and bottom 10--described in Welch's book, "Jack: Straight from the Gut" (Warner Business Books). …

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