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Jack and Suzy Welch’s 6 Deadly Sins of Leadership


Jack Welch is not a person we associate with a lack of confidence, so when he tells us that something is a leadership challenge, we know it’s for real.

The former CEO of General Electric and his wife, business journalist and author Suzy Welch, recently wrote a LinkedIn column outlining the management pitfalls that crop up again and again, no matter how skilled leaders become. You can read the full list and their commentary here, but these were the “sins” that surprised me the most:

1. Not Giving Self-Confidence Its Due.

What’s surprising here isn’t the value the Welches place on self-confidence — just about any businessman since Dale Carnegie would tell you that it’s important to believe in yourself. However, I was struck by the emphasis they put on giving confidence to your staff:

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“We’re not saying that leaders should blindly extol and exalt. People know when they’re being gamed. But good leaders work relentlessly to find ways to instill self-confidence in those around them. They know it’s the gift that never stops giving.”

2. Fixation on Results at the Expense of Values.

When’s the last time you heard a business expert weigh values over numbers? But there’s a good reason for this. Having good values and hewing to them keeps staff happier, makes people honest and communicative and willing to share ideas, and might even help your company avoid major ethical foul-ups that can eventually erode public goodwill — and those numbers all companies want to protect.

3. Skipping the Fun Part.

“What is it about celebrating that makes managers so nervous?” the Welches write. “Maybe throwing a party doesn’t seem professional, or it makes people worry that they won’t look serious to the powers that be, or that, if things get too happy in the office, people will stop working their tails off.”

We’ve all worked at places that would cancel the most budget-friendly department potluck if numbers were down. This article makes a good argument for why that’s a bad idea: celebrating makes your team feel winners, and people who feel like winners are, well, more likely to win.

Tell Us What You Think

We want to hear from you! What are some other deadly sins of leadership? Leave a comment or join the discussion on Twitter, using the hashtag #MakeItHappen.

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Jack Welch

(Photo Credit: Challenge Future/Flickr)

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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