Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Jack Welch Story

The following story is allegedly attributed to Jack Welch and, therefore I will presume the same.

A manager comes to Jack to ask for help in a delicate matter. Jack joyfully offers his assistance but warns his subordinate that the next time he/she comes in with a problem he/she will be fired. "Why?", asks the employee stupefied. Jack answers: "You are hired here to solve problems not to report them to me. It may happen that you ran into something that you can't handle by yourself but such a problem is unlikely to occur more than once in your career here so I'm more than glad to help you. But if it happens more than once though, it means that you are not that good and maybe we can find somebody who does better."

While Jack surely is quite radical in his approach, he has a good point. A manager who goes to his superior whenever he encounters a more difficult situation is a weak manager. He/she has no intrinsic value on his own. Leadership comes from the ability to solve problems and not forward them up the hierarchy. I'm not implying that he/she should hide things or be afraid of consequences of his own actions. I'm not implying either that he/she should never ask for advice or even help. What I'm saying is that, if he/she always feels the need to go "upstairs" for interventions than he/she should seriously ask himself/herself - "Am I really adding value to the enterprise?" And one more thing: if you need to go to your superior, BE PREPARED! Make sure that you have all the answers to all the questions, that you have perfect arguments, discuss them with somebody first. Otherwise you will only make a fool of yourself.

BTW, (Jack Welch in Romania)

No comments: