The Project Notebook

Leadership Quotes – Part I

[Over the next year, I will be participating in the Project Management Institute’s Leadership Institute Masters Class. This is a unique opportunity for personal growth which is offered to committed volunteers. The inaugural meeting of my class is this coming Sunday, so I thought it might be appropriate to include some articles on favorite quotes on leadership.]

Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion.

Jack Welch

The book From Good to Great calls it relentless execution. It is the unrelenting and tireless drive to achieve the vision. I personally like to think of this as being results oriented. While reaching the perfect state described by the business vision may be difficult or far off in the future, its about setting and reaching those achievable milestones along the way. Without a vision, without goals, we are simply wandering aimlessly and undisciplined.

Jack’s leadership made GE a great company, even though the Collins study may not have recognized it for a few reasons. His three-ring cocktail napkin drawing has to be one of history’s simplest communications of a vision. There were clear guidelines for how the company was to progress. Along the way, the ride may have been bumpy. During the 80s, there were brutal organizational changes which flattened a deep hierarchical management structure and made the company more efficient. But the company survived and prospered. As a long time shareholder in that period, I saw my investment value triple every three to four years, after which there was a two or three to one stock split. Dividends were consistently paid.

A few years ago, while visiting Toronto, I had the opportunity to personally meet Jack at a book signing. I related to him the fact that I was a former employee of a division which ultimately found itself outside the three circles. His only comment: “That wasn’t the best of times’. Clearly a passionate and committed leader, I could still sense his loss in not being able to keep us in the circles, even though nearly a decade had passed.

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