A business leader who developed a culture of leadership development within a company is the former CEO of General Electric, Jack Welch. After receiving his PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Illinois he started working for GE when he was 24 years old. During the 21 years before becoming the CEO he worked in many different divisions and in different leadership roles. He became CEO in 1981 and held the position until he retired in 2001.
His leadership style drove the company to becoming one of the top businesses in the world. While he was in his CEO position the company’s “Revenues grew five-fold from $25 billion to $130 billion, income grew ten-fold, from $1.5 billion to $15 billion, and the company’s market capitalization had a 30-fold increase of more than $400 billion.” He achieved these results by,
- Focusing only on the divisions that could be #1 or #2 in the industry and getting rid of those who could not.
- Firing the bottom 10 percent of his mangers while rewarding the top 20 percent with bonuses and stock options.
- Destroying bureaucracy within the company.
- Adapting Six Sigma.
- Making training and development a priority within the company.
In my opinion one of the main reasons why GE has achieved success was because of Jack Welch’s hands on approach to leadership training and development. I once heard in an interview that he spent the majority of his later years as CEO developing leaders and potential successors for the company. When it comes to people development Jack Welch said,
Too often, managers think that people development occurs once a year in performance reviews. That’s not even close. It should be a daily event, integrated into every aspect of your regular goings-on. Customer visits are a chance to evaluate your sales force. Plant tours are an opportunity to meet promising new line managers. A coffee break at a meeting is an opening to coach a team member about to give his first major presentation.
This paragraph offers a practical way to develop your people. The principle is to: Be intentional in developing your people in everyday situations and circumstances. This means you have your eyes and ears open so you’re able to spot opportunities to mentor, teach, and develop your people. A leader can do this by taking time to interact and observe their people in action, then when needed, stepping in and provide a teachable moment or coaching for the person. This simple principle can be one way you cultivate an environment of people development.
Question: How important is it for a leader to coach and mentor their people in everyday situations and events? What are some practical ways you do this?