Sunday, November 18, 2007


I have been posting infrequently lately (and no, I am also not the Annoyed Librarian), and was way behind on my blog reading. However, a quiet weekend has allowed me to get completely caught up on my Bloglines reading.

There were two posts by Helen Blowers which caught my eye and got me thinking. I am going to talk about them in the reverse order in which she posted them.

The first was about her motto on leadership. It is a great motto! Now, I know that at least one of my readers will not be able to see the photo with the handwritten note, so here it is transcribed:

To be a Leader: A Leader brings out the best in themselves by bringing out the best in others. [11-90]
For me, it is a fundamental truth in leadership.

The other post is about Jack Welch. It links to a page on the Stanford Graduate School of Business web site which quotes Jack from a visit there. The quote is a good one, and does have a lot to say about leadership. It got me to wondering about how much he really believes it.

I lived in Fairfield County Connecticut when Jack was the CEO of General Electric. GE's corporate headquarters are in the town of Fairfield, and if you drive the Merritt Parkway (which I did daily for almost a decade), you drive right past it. My first recollection of hearing about Jack was as "Neutron Jack Welch -- he leaves the building standing, but most of the employees are gone." Indeed, to check my memory, I went surfing and found this quote (yes, it is from Wikipedia) which matches my recollection:
During the early 1980s he was dubbed "Neutron Jack" (in reference to the neutron bomb) for eliminating employees while leaving buildings intact. In Jack: Straight From The Gut, Welch states that GE had 411,000 employees at the end of 1980, and 299,000 at the end of 1985. Of the 112,000 who left the payroll, 37,000 were in sold businesses, and 81,000 were reduced in continuing businesses.

It also notes:
Welch has also received criticism over the years for his lack of compassion for the middle class and working class. Welch has publicly stated that he is not concerned with the discrepancy between the salaries of top-paid CEOs and those of average workers.
I guess I worry that a true (good/moral) leader is going to show many of the qualities which Helene points to, but should also care about those s/he leads. That is the sign of an authentic leader.

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