Super-CEO Jack Welch Tells Us How to Kill it at the Office

When it comes to taking care of business, there’s no better man for the job than super-CEO John F. Welch, Jr. On June 4, 2015, the Montreal Chamber of Commerce hosted the legendary leader, management expert, and best-selling author as part of the International Leaders Series. Throughout a dynamic question-and-answer session led by Caesars Acquisition Company CEO Mitch Garber, Welch dazzled his audience with stimulating advice, humorous anecdotes (including absconding to Montreal with his secret-girlfriend-turned-wife and co-author of his new book Suzy Welch) and, of course, his characteristic enthusiasm for teambuilding. (We’ll let him off the hook for being a Bruins fan.)

Whether you’re an employee looking to score some extra goals, a manager seeking to bring your team to the next level, or a CEO striving to be that coach that everyone raves about, Welch’s tips will help you kill it at the office.


For Employees:

Add value

Good employees do the job, but great employees find a way to go above and beyond. Welch recounted an anecdote involving a young Jack in an engineering plant who wowed a senior manager by implementing the results of his specific project into the greater scheme of the company. Doing what’s asked of you is not going to make you stand out. Find a way to push your project the extra mile.

Make your boss smarter

An employee’s job is to make the boss smarter, says Welch. Every time you sit down with your boss, give them information they don’t know. Let them walk away having learnt something. If you don’t take the opportunity to educate your boss every time you sit down with them, you’re wasting valuable time.

Grow, don’t swell

Performing well in your job is a great thing. Success feels great and makes all the long hours and hard work worth it. But don’t let that confidence get to your head. It’s important that employees are always looking forward and seeking to move up, says Welch, but there’s a difference between growing and swelling. It’s one thing to want to get ahead – but no one likes someone with a big head.

Mixed group in business meeting

For Managers:

Celebrate wins

If an employee does something well, celebrate it, says Welch. There is not enough celebration in the office. When you play on a sports team, you celebrate every goal, every touchdown. Bring that same mentality to the office. Managers are afraid to celebrate their employees because they think, ‘if I celebrate this person, what will this other guy think?’. Don’t worry about that, says Welch. That person will serve as a leader to the other team members and encourage them to hit one out of the park as well.

Tell people where they stand

It’s amazing to me how few employees know where they stand with their bosses, says Welch. Their entire impression of their performance at work is based on a shrug from the boss or a grin. It’s not fair to do to that to your employees. Meet with them, tell them what they are doing well, and tell them where there is room for improvement. We know how we evaluate our team members – shouldn’t they be aware too?

Create a winning locker room

Think about what the winning locker room looks like after a game and think about what the losing locker room looks like. You want to make your company into the winning locker room. Encourage your team members, make them feel like there is a team and that they are each a critical part of it. Encourage comradery. Treat your captains as captains and give them a chance to lead.

Business meeting

For CEOs:

Become a Chief Meaning Officer

The most effective leaders know how to get their team to live and breathe the organization’s vision, says Welch. It’s incredible how few employees actually know what their company vision is. Help each and every employee to find meaning in their job and to passionately own the vision of your company.

Stick to your values

What do you do with star players who have a bad attitude? “It’s a question I get asked often,” says Welch. The answer? Get rid of them. Strong performers are good in the short term, but your name is only as good as what you stand for. Your mission statement is what you do and your vision statement is how you do it. If you can’t stick to your vision and your values, what are you saying to your customers and the other employees?

Don’t kick them when they’re down

Welch sets up this point with an incredible anecdote: blowing up the GE factory his first year on the job due to a small snafu in the lab. “I was sent to New York – to my boss boss’s office – and I knew I was done,” said Welch. But instead of berating him, Welch’s boss asked, ‘what do you think went wrong?’ and ‘what did you learn from this?’. “No one can call me soft,” says Welch, “but I’ll never kick someone when they’re down.”

Businessman offering for handshake