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Hardcover What Made Jack Welch Jack Welch: How Ordinary People Become Extraordinary Leaders Book

ISBN: 0307337200

ISBN13: 9780307337207

What Made Jack Welch Jack Welch: How Ordinary People Become Extraordinary Leaders

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Book Overview

Surprisingly, it s not about education or pedigree or even native smarts. Most of us are like jack welch, who started life as a lowercase guy, the son of a railroad conductor, but went on to become... This description may be from another edition of this product.

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Practical how-to prep for greater roles in the company

Baum has captured in very real, easy-to-get language what it takes to prepare for a larger role, job and greater responsibility. The book is full of practical, implementatable ideas that Baum has successfully used in mentoring CEOs of high growth companies. I know CEOs who are actually using these ideas, with great success, in their companies. This is an easy take- with-you-on-the-plane great read!

Great leaders share "a common pattern of life experiences"

In the Introduction, Stephen H. Baum confides that, at one point, the more he had gotten to know great leaders, the more he realized what he did not know. For example, "Who made these men and women who and what they are?" So he set out to find an answer to that question and later realized that what he really wanted to know was the answer to a related question: "How did they develop [various traits of great leadership] in the first place?" In this book, written with Dave Conti, Baum shares everything he learned during research on and -- in some instances from interviews of -- various great leaders, such Gordon Bethune (Continental Airlines), Cathleen Black (Hearst Magazines), Jim Broadhead (Florida Power & Light), Shelly Lazarus (Ogilvy & Mather), Arthur Martinez (Sears, Roebuck & Company), and Jack Welch (GE). Note: Baum uses lower case to identify exemplars pre-greatness (jack welch) and then upper case upon their becoming great leaders (e.g. Jack Welch or, more irritating, JACK WELCH). In the review that follows, I capitalize all proper nouns, including individuals' names. In the first chapter, Baum explains how "shaping experiences mold successful leaders," then devotes the remainder of his narrative (Chapters 2-8) to an examination of the process by which "ordinary people become extraordinary leaders." This process bears striking resemblances to the process that Warren Bennis and Robert Thomas discuss in Geeks & Geezers (later reissued as Leading for a Lifetime) and what Bill George describes in Authentic Leadership and then True North. How to explain the fact that so many CEOs and other C-level executives are ineffective leaders? Baum offers this explanation: "Unable to reach deep into their character and their life experiences for the strength and knowledge to lead, pretenders rely on a variety of false personas or masks to make up for their deficiencies. They use artifice to compensate for the lack of a well-developed core. [George characterizes it as one's "true north."] Their masks and their acting skills can cover up their flaws for a while, but they are eventually exposed. Whether they work in the executive suite or the mailroom, they eventually fail." That is certainly not true of the exemplars upon whom Baum focuses most of his attention. However significantly different they may be in several respects, all share "a common pattern of [shaping] life experiences" that have guided and informed, indeed nourished their development as effective leaders. Baum's analysis of the causes, effects, and significance of many of those experiences is of uneven quality. He seems to have selected more than he is willing and/or able to discuss with sufficient precision. Of special interest to me is what Baum has to say about "shaping experiences that whet the appetite to take charge" in Chapter 4. As do Bennis and Thomas in Geeks & Geezers, Baum focuses on "crucibles," noting that the shaping of character begins during the first seven

This year's business book masterpiece!

Stephen Baum's leadership book, "What Made jack welch into JACK WELCH: How Ordinary People become Extraordinary Leaders," is this year's business book masterpiece. I regularly read a sampling from the hundreds of business success books published each year. And, in this case, Baum's work is missing the usual after-the-fact braggadocio, and instead is loaded of insight, introspection and reflection, all crafted in useful advice for the aspiring leader. As I read Baum's work, per his advice to begin my own inventory, I took laptop to lap, instead of pen to hand, and began making notes and holding my own personal introspection sessions related to each chapter. It took me five times longer to read Baum's work than any business book I have read in years as I found myself stopping over and over to add a note here and there about my experiences, as I inventoried my own archetypal shaping experiences. While I tired of the phrase "swimming over your head" I couldn't offer a more appropriate phrase to viscerally describe the experience of trying new experiences in preparation for assuming the mantel of leadership. I also must commend Baum for the depth of his sourcing from his own interviews, written texts of successful leaders, and confidential conversations from his professional network. This deep insight is successful in reinforcing Baum's theories and concepts in each case. In the personal gut searching spirit of James Lipton's, "Inside the Actors' Studio," this book works. Baum's text discusses a wide range of shaping experiences he calls "archetypal shaping experiences," helps identify "empty suits" in leadership positions, goes into serious depth about skills and attributes critical to leadership including: action orientation, ethics, managed risk taking, developing confidence, and acting decisively. He concludes the book with two powerful capstone chapters. Chapter 7 on engaging and inspiring team members by using "signal acts" and authenticity is very thought provoking. He gives some great examples and discusses the concept of parenting. One nit I would pick with Baum is his light treatment or warning around making sure not to treat workers as small children in the family. In my varied career, I have seen many executives bring their parenting skills into the workplace and then complain about how immature their workers are, how they need too much direction and guidance, all the while treating their workers like five-year olds. It would be nice to see how parenting works well and a comparison of when if works to the detriment of an organization. Baum might summarize, we want loyal families, but we also want them to grow up and leave the nest for their own success. Baum concludes with Chapter 8 on finding a career guide or mentor, which he calls "guardian angels." He discusses the attributes of these angels who ask tough but gentle questions, offer gentle and not so gentle advice, get you to look into the mirror and help shape your c

Both insight and practical advice

This fascinating book accomplishes something unusual: it provides both penetrating human insight and practical value for managers. It asks a question which, I must admit, I had never really thought about: Why do great leaders become so effective? It seems that it has to do with early formative experience. Parents take note. Just going to Harvard Business School (as I did) probably isn't enough. More important is the kind of experience which builds character. And the practicality arises from an ample set of suggestions for would-be leaders to follow in order to develop their potential. I found the importance of connecting with a good mentor to be particularly useful. The big message for me in all of this is that it is not relentless predatory ambition that counts but genuine character. It could make unpleasant rating for anti globalization protesters and other anti-capitalists who assume that all top managers are flawed and reprehensible human beings. If you have big plans, read this book.


This book reads like an insider's look at the life shaping moments of CEOs and is a who's who of the "C Suite" in American business. I found it to be a very engaging book that links the common threads of people's desire for leadership to the shaping experiences (good and bad) that motivated them to achieve. In the spirit of Harvey Mackay's "How to Swim with the Sharks without Being Eaten Alive," the book is written by an author who is an accomplished businessman and trusted advisor. The stories he shares about people behind the public personas are very insightful. I liked the variety of stories and the coverage of men and women in business-stories on Shelly Lazarus and Cathleen Black as well as Jack Welch and David Neeleman. The personal stories of the leaders of American businesses and the synchronistic experiences that landed them in their positions is very inspiring. The author Stephen Baum is a CEOs coach but this book is valuable reading to both current and aspiring leaders. With chapters on Integrity (Doing the Right Thing When No One is Looking) and Angels (If You Want to Climb Everest, Get Yourself a Sherpa)-it is a refreshing take on American business and a reminder of the good that great leaders aspire to. There is alot of wisdom here. HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!
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