Opinion

Jack and Suzy Welch

(Business) haters gonna hate – but who gets hurt?

Jack and Suzy Welch
Sep 14, 2012 11:59 UTC

“You didn’t build that.”

“Corporations aren’t people.”

With the first, a revealing gaffe, and the second, a wildly cheered campaign refrain, one party has certainly made it clear how it feels about American business these days.

It ain’t good.

Well, big surprise, we don’t agree. We consider entrepreneurs American heroes and, as we’ve opined recently, we think many corporations brim with humanity. Business can’t operate unfettered, of course, without any form of oversight or control. But our view, essentially, is that business is a source of great good for society, with the power to create hope and opportunity like no other institution going.

Indeed, the positives so outweigh the negatives that lately we’ve been trying to identify why some people hate business so fervently. After all, the risks of this movement’s efforts to demonize business are frighteningly high.

Here’s where we’ve landed.

First, there’s clearly a group of people that disdains business because they support some or all of the fundamental leveling tenets of socialism. This ideology is too multifaceted to summarize here and is well-known in any regard, but suffice it to say that its adherents believe, as the president once put it, “You’ve got to spread the wealth around.”

Then there are people who hate business not because of ideology but because of personal experience – they’ve been wrongly fired, endured a dreadful boss, or watched a schmoozer get the promotion that, by rights, belonged to someone better. Whatever the specifics, these individuals see business as a place where good people get burned.

Picking the right one to run with Romney

Jack and Suzy Welch
Jul 3, 2012 14:09 UTC

Several months ago, we met a CEO who had one main complaint about his job. It wasn’t foreign competition or fickle consumers. No, it was loneliness. “I make every decision by myself,” he moaned.

“That’s nuts!” was our immediate reply. “You can’t run the place that way!”

Every leader needs a team, and every leader benefits enormously from having a wingman, a partner who can be counted on to counsel, goad, provoke, listen, and on and on. It’s true in business, and it’s true in politics. A great person in the No. 2 spot can make the person at No. 1 decidedly stronger, smarter and more effective.

Mr. Biden, here’s the truth about private equity

Jack and Suzy Welch
May 30, 2012 17:41 UTC

Time was you worked in private equity and people just sort of shrugged when you mentioned it. You were in finance sort of; you invested in companies, you made deals. Whatever.

Now, you’re in private equity, and well, hello. You’re a heroic job creator – or no, wait, you take pleasure in firing people. You’re a savvy executive who knows how to grow the economy – or get outta here, you’re a vulture capitalist with leadership skills, as Vice-President Joe Biden recently put it, that are no better than a plumber’s.

Hello, indeed, and with all due respect to the vice-president, and certainly with no offense intended toward plumbers, we have a question.

Romney vs. Obama: Leadership and the enemies list

Jack and Suzy Welch
Apr 11, 2012 16:52 UTC

Remember that incompetent boss you used to have? He was a good guy and all, but he just couldn’t make decisions or prioritize. Perhaps worst of all, he tried to make everyone happy, resulting in almost everyone being angry or confused or both. And remember how long it took management to move him out – and how aggravating that was?

Of course, at the time, you sort of understood why the Bigs had promoted the guy in the first place, and why they held out hope for so long. He’d been a superstar salesman. Best the company had seen in ages. But in the end, it turned out that all the things that made him great as an individual performer made him lousy as a people manager.

It happens all the time at work. A brilliant engineer promoted to run R&D. A gifted reporter elevated to editor. A cutting-edge scientist made head of the lab. First cheers. Then, after a bit, confusion about organizational direction, mixed signals about values, hurt feelings left and right and, eventually, chaos.

Mitt Romney: S#*! authentic people say

Jack and Suzy Welch
Mar 9, 2012 13:02 UTC

If one word sums up the analysis that has followed Super Tuesday, it’s got to be “Huh?”

Or taken out of shorthand: “Why is it that Mitt Romney — a candidate with mountains of credentials, a boatload of cash and six years of planning — loses where he should win and only squeaks by where he should clobber, all while Rick Santorum, a long shot if there ever was one, goes around capturing hearts and votes?”

“Huh?” indeed.

Not that there aren’t plenty of answers to this question. Quite the opposite. Everyone in the pundit-sphere, it appears, agrees in one form or another that Romney’s problem is about connecting with people.

Mitt Romney’s Kodak moment

Jack and Suzy Welch
Feb 3, 2012 13:00 UTC

If there’s one concept we preach that everyone seems to agree on it’s the following: You have to face reality the way it is, not the way you want it to be.

True, right?

So why is it that so many organizations do the exact opposite? Why do they think technology will evolve at a manageable pace or that a competitor’s products will never be able to capture the hearts of their customers? Why do they say things like, “Prices will hold because costs are as rock-bottom as they’ll ever be,” or buy into notions like, “We can’t go any faster and maintain our quality”?

Such questions are rhetorical, of course. People don’t face reality the way it is because, well, because they’re people. Change – especially change that will require upending “how things are done around here” – can make us cranky, dismissive, mocking or all of the above.

Ron Paul and the pink slip that could decide the election

Jack and Suzy Welch
Jan 26, 2012 18:06 UTC

Have you ever woken up in the morning knowing you have to let someone go and just felt sick to your stomach? It’s the worst part of work, isn’t it? Even when it’s absolutely necessary — the money isn’t there or the employee hasn’t been contributing for ages — the emotional pain and mess of sending someone home is every good leader’s bête noire.

To make matters worse, letting someone go is, without doubt the moment when every leader is the most likely to screw up. Really screw up. Because when you fire a person the wrong way — that is, without generosity and respect — you can be sure of two things.

You’ve hurt someone unnecessarily.

And you’ve set up your organization for a future relationship from hell. After all, terminated employees don’t just fade away. They usually reappear, and pretty rapidly, as customers, suppliers, distributors, or in the worst-case scenario, competitors with an ax to grind.

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