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Jack Welch on doing and on dreaming

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers

General Electric’s CEO emeritus Jack Welch says leadership in tough times is the same as it ever was: “to do and dream at the same time.” Problem is, because of economic gridlock, most of today’s leaders are only doing. Why?

First, when you’re drowning, you’re not thinking about your next excursion, he says. You’re thinking, “Kick, kick, kick.”

Second, your people may not exactly be open to new ideas if they’re loaded down with extra work, preoccupied with layoffs and pinched in compensation.

Bottom line: Welch is not suggesting that the split between doing and planning should be 50-50. Instead, he recommends that leaders who throw themselves 100% into the present should pull back and devote 20% to 30% of their time into plotting the future. Be sure to include your people, so that when the upturn comes, you’ll be ready.

— Adapted from “Inventing the Future Now,” Jack and Suzy Welch, BusinessWeek.

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