Winning: The Ultimate Business How-To Book by Jack Welch and Suzy Welch

Score: 4.5/5

I read this book because it was written by GE’s CEO, Jack Welch, from the 1980s and 90s, who passed away in 2020. I used to remember GE being a great company when I was a kid and now things sadly are different. I want to know what he did differently back then.

The book talks about the four principles Jack had when he was the CEO: “In brief, the four principles are about the importance of a strong mission and concrete values; the absolute necessity of candor in every aspect of management; the power of differentiation, meaning a system based on meritocracy; and the value of each individual receiving voice and dignity.”

It all sounds like it makes sense, but when you ask something like “what is a mission and how is it different from the company values?”, things become a bit fuzzy. The book answers questions like those while explaining why those four principles worked for him and for GE back then. The book is quite practical in lots of ways, but once in a while I do hope it gives a bit more evidence and cases to support the claims – those cases might become self-evident to someone more experienced, but they are necessary to convince someone like me. Overall a really good book and after reading the book, I understood why he was known as a successful CEO.


  • The mission announces exactly where you are going, and the values describe the behaviors that will get you there.
  • How do you come up with one? To me, this is a no-brainer. You can get input from anywhere—and you should listen to smart people from every quarter. But setting the mission is top management’s responsibility. A mission cannot, and must not, be delegated to anyone except the people ultimately held accountable for it. In fact, a mission is the defining moment for a company’s leadership.
  • To get candor, you reward it, praise it, and talk about it. You make public heroes out of people who demonstrate it. Most of all, you yourself demonstrate it in an exuberant and even exaggerated way—even when you’re not the boss.
  • Every employee who leaves goes on to represent your company. For the next five, ten, or twenty years, they can bad-mouth or praise.
  • In other words, any new job should feel like a stretch, not a layup.
  • Yes, a stretch job increases the possibility of you screwing up. That’s why you should also make sure you join a company where learning is truly a value, growth for every employee is a real objective, mistakes aren’t always fatal, and there are lots of people around whom you can reach out to for coaching and mentoring.
  • But be careful, because the boss-subordinate relationship can easily fall into two career-damaging traps. The first, and by far more common, occurs when you spend too much time managing up. As a result, you become too remote from your subordinates, and you end up losing their support and affection. The second occurs when you get too close to your employees, overstepping boundaries, and end up acting more like a buddy than a boss.