Jack Welch has been a seminal to the ‘Leadership and Management’ side of this blog from the outset.  My tag line of ‘Do the right things right’ derives from his quote ‘Leaders do the right things; Managers do things right.’ (I first heard the version from Welch, though it is also often attributed, like much management punditry kicking around, to the legendary Warren Bennis).  Special thanks to colleague Annemarie Duffy who recommended Welch’s book ‘Winning’, I was able to glean more of his many executive insights; however, in this posting I want to highlight some great observations about ‘Turning Adversity to Advantage’ (my other focus subject).

"Fourth Characteristic of senior leadership:  heavy duty resilience…Every leader makes mistakes, every leader stumbles and falls.  The question with a senior-level leader is, does she learn from her mistakes, regroup, and then get going again with renewed speed, conviction and confidence.  The name for this trait is resilience, and it is important that a leader must have it going into a job because if she doesn’t, a crisis time is too late to learn it.  That is why, when I placed people in new leadership situations, I always looked for candidates who had one or two tough experiences.  I particularly liked the people who had had the wind knocked clear out of them but proved they could run even harder in the next race.  The global business world today is going to knock any leader off her horse more than once.  She must know how to get back in the saddle again.”

“Everyone in business claims they like change; to say otherwise would be career suicide.  In fact, it’s quite common to see someone describe himself as a ‘change agent’ right on his resume.  That’s ridiculous.  By my estimate real change agents comprise less than 10 percent of all business people…The people have courage – a certain fearlessness about the unknown.  Something in them makes it OK to operate without a safety net.  If they fail, they know they can pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and move on.  They’re thick skinned about risk, which allows them to make bold decisions without a lot of data… Leaders inspire risk taking and learning by setting the example.”

My favourite quote was the following on ‘scepticism’ which is a term that keeps coming up in the topic of embracing failure (Love Taking Small Losses, Sceptics and True Believers)

“Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders on scepticism, making sure their questions are answered with action.”