Two Acronyms Every Leader Needs to Know and Do
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I experienced 39 years in the military, and every day we used a ton of acronyms. You probably use them in your organizations, too. As if that isn't enough, I made up two additional acronyms that every leader needs to know and do: SIS and SIW. Stay tuned, and we'll share what those two acronyms mean.
Hi there, leaders! My name is General Robert Van Antwerp, a retired three-star general from the US Army. Today, I want to share with you a portion of a talk I shared on my top 6 influential leaders, and specifically, what I learned from Jack Welch of General Electric.
Enjoy this talk! I'll be back with you in a few minutes.
I want to share a story with you about Jack Welch, the chairman of General Electric, who is known as a leader of leaders around the world.
Our chief of staff for the Army, Denny Reimer, told me about a newly created position. Naturally, I decided I wanted the job, which was to be the installation manager for the Army.
Now, there are 150 installations in the Army, and 90 in the Air Force, and we did all the construction on those installations. He accepted me for the job and told me, "Van, you're about to run a big business. I want you to go work in business - establish a benchmark in business." And he said, "I have this friend, and it's up near West Point. In fact, he has a school. It's called Crotonville on the Hudson. It's the GE school."
So, I went there. I was there with ten other leaders from General Electric. Four of them were running for the chairmanship. I was the only one in the room that made less than ten million dollars that year, and I made a lot less!
In those four weeks, Jack Welch came in for one four-hour session each week. How important was that?
When his leaders gathered, he was there and he was leading. They have a little place - they call it "the pit." It's like a little amphitheater and you sit up there. So, there were only ten of us - it held about a hundred people. He would be down in the pit; a little short guy...about 5'8", has a lisp, and is a 'scratch' golfer.
One of the weeks, I remember Jack coming in. Do you remember that old commercial where the leader said, "We just got fired today," and he had airline tickets in his pocket? And he said, "You're going to go see this guy..." and he was handing out airline tickets, and then he started walking out the door. He had one in his pocket and they said, "Where are you going?" The leader replied,"I'm going to go see that friend that fired us today."
Jack Welch came in one day with airline tickets, and he laid them out on the table. They were in groups of three, so we divided the 11 of us (because I was kind of an outlier) into groups. He had the airline tickets right there, and he said, "Go and pick up your ticket. You're going to find the benchmark at one of these wonderful companies in the world."
I went with two other people from GE, and we went to Volvo.
I mean, we sent people all over the world. Then you came back, and then we had a session.
There were two things that Jack Welch said, "This is what we're doing. We're going to go 'steal' ideas. We have a non-disclosure agreement with them, but we're going to go steal ideas. And we're going to share ideas - be open about it. Share! We have a lot of great things we do here. Share about the GE way; they can take it or leave it, but SHARE."
I've come up with two acronyms. These are from Jack Welch. The first one is SIS - Steal Ideas Shamelessly. Steal it! Steal it, and you'll make it better. The next idea is this (this is harder to say; the SIS is easy to say!): SIW. That's with a "W." S-I-W: Share Ideas Willingly.
When I'm in a boardroom and there are ten people and only five talk, there are some people not sharing ideas willingly, that could. Maybe you have high deference - I don't know...but bring it! If you're invited, bring it!
One of the big goals you need to have as a leader is to let your people steal ideas and share ideas. It's one of the great ways of getting better.
So, that's my Jack Welch story!
Well, I hope you enjoyed hearing what I learned from Jack Welch. To debrief, remember - great leaders steal ideas shamelessly and share ideas willingly.
If you found this talk helpful, please do us a favor. Click the Like button to share with your friends, and also scroll down to the bottom of this post and answer this question: What are some ideas you can willingly share to help make other people better?
Let's continue the conversation below. We'd love to hear from you!
Take care, and I'll see you soon.