Friday, August 06, 2010

Leadership Summit 2010 – Session 7b: Leader to Leader (Jack Welch and Bill Hybels)

Leadership Summit 2010 – Session 7b: Leader to Leader (Jack Welch and Bill Hybels)
(note: for other notes from the Leadership Summit, please see my other posts on my blog at or see my posts on twitter at - You will also find some great notes from the Leadership Summit at or follow Tim on twitter at

He took GE to a 400Billion company.

This is an interview from North Palm Beach Florida

Q: How do you energize people?
A: I get people to connect with the mission. He engages people on the mission. Tell the story.

Have them share the mission.

Q: How did you end this session you had at a call center?
A: I asked for feedback on the session. They talked about a real story that they could share to convince people about the value.

Q: There is a whole chapter about speaking truth, not brutalizing, but candor
A: We fought desparately to get people to put what people were thinking on the table. It resulted in less paperwork, less meetings.

Q: There probably isn't anything as hotly debated as your leadership concept of differentiation: Splitting the staff into top 20%, middle 70% and bottom 10% (ones that something needed to be done with right away).
A: Do sports teams differentiate? Do those with the best players win? Is winning good? Business is a game too!

In most places, people spend more time trying to fix the bottom. Ordinary can't get better. Don't waste your time on them. Give them a chance to move on. Tell them they don't belong, they have to get out, you help them.

Q: What is the behavior of the”A”s
A: They are good, great behavior. They have a Gene: they like to see people grow, they like to see people get promoted. They celebrate people. They have generosity. They are not mean-spirited. The mean-spirited, when you're looking for good people will hide the good people and say “we don't have any.” The good people want to promote their good people.

Q: Let's talk about “B”s, the vital 70%. These people are still valuable.
A: Isn't always there in a clutch, but is hard working. Maybe not as gifted as others. The issue is those who are in the 25 percentile. Those who are so close to the top 20%. They can be lost. Three or four times a year, he likes to give those people a list of what is needed to improve. Appraisals need to have writing over the last one with a red pen so you can see what was discussed the last one.

Q: What characterizes the lowest 10%?
A: Low energy, Acidic. Pain in the arm. People who say “we did that last year.” Boss haters and disrupters (i.e. If they exhibit this behavior regularly). The boss hater should be listened to. They might be challenging you. There is brains in boss-haters because they might bring things to you. You can't get rid of the noise. The acid person is not a loud mouth disrupter, they are usually whisperers because they spead bad news.

Q: in Christian work, a lot of time people feel it's wrong to speak negatively, so they will talk about it in the hallway.
A: You have to do what you can to stop the meeting after the meeting. It should be brought up at the meeting.

Q: How do you recognize the people
A: Top 20, you can't give them enough. Do whatever you can for them. In church work, it's the same thing. You recognize them with symbols.
People might ask “Who are you to tell me that I am in the top or middle or bottom” They have a point, but I can't find a better way. You need to let people know where to stand. The idea of never acknowledging performance is not good, all winning teams do this.

Q: Could you have done as well without the ability to give such big bonuses
A: If you didn't do it, you would loose these people.

Q: We are left with trying to maintain and inspire people with such a large compensation card
A: People join non-profits because of a deep burning desire. People choose to join the organization because they want to serve. They made that choice. They have to accept the outcomes of their choice.

Sometimes people will say non-profit means non-performance. That shouldn't be true.

Q: What would you say you would have changed
A: How often do you say “I wish I would have waited longer to do that?” So, I should have moved faster.

Q: Sometimes a decision is difficult to make because of the ramifications, because of the impact it will make.
A: But, what is the cost of waiting?
The job is to constantly be giving people more self-confidence at work. People will perform better.

Q: People feel you did one of the best baton passes to your successor. There are many pastors who have had an incredible run and want to do a good baton pass so it will be even more successful.
A: We started 8 years before I was to retire and had 22 candidates. We had it categorizes into long shots, possibles, etc. People change, so any point in time you may make one decision that would change at another time.
Hiring is hard, succession is brutal. Include as many people as you can. And, don't be surprised if it's the long shots who make it.

The hardest part was to get managers to celebrate the small victories. It re-energizes the group.
Q: Would you tell the manager to put something in the budget for this?
A: No matter what budget, it always has “Slush” in it (contingency) Have you ever made a budget that was down to the penny?

Q: You had a health issue recently?
A: I went for a cortisone shot and ended up with staff infection. 104 days in the hospital.
Q: Did that open your heart to things of God
A: I give this church, first Presbyterian here in North Palm Florida, and like the pastor. I love this church.

Q: It seems as though your more open to God.
A: I don't know if it's the sickness. When I'm alone, I go to the 9:30 service by myself and say wow, I'm going by myself!

Bill Hybels: I've learned from this relationship. Never ever give up on somebody. I pray for Jack regularly. You have people you pray for. And you know what would happen in their life if God would take over. We're here as Christian leaders because we believe. Don't be that one who gives up on someone.

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