Safe Systems President Darren Bridges always has the best suggestions for professional development resources, so we decided to introduce “Darren’s Corner” so that everyone can benefit!

Featured Book for September:

“Winning” by by Jack Welch

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This month in Darren’s Corner we will be discussing “Winning” by Jack Welch. With 40 years at General Electric under his belt, Welch knew a thing or two about winning in the business world. Unfortunately, Welch passed away earlier this year, but his values, and wisdom will inspire leaders for generations. Winning in all aspects takes hard work, communication, and great leadership.

There are too many great takeaways in this book to cover, so I’ll focus on three topics that have stayed with me for years:

  • Mission and Values
  • Candor
  • Differentiation

Mission and Values

When it comes to business, mission is where the business is going, and values are the behaviors that will get us there. You should have such clarity around the mission, that if you woke your employees up in the middle of the night and ask them what the mission was, they could yell it out on instinct! Setting that mission is the leader’s responsibility, and instilling clarity of direction is a major part of that.

From a values standpoint, carefully choose a team of individuals who share the company’s values, and don’t tolerate variations of that. Do not hide your diligence in dealing with individuals who stray from your values, or who clearly never truly bought into them.


Welch states that lack of candor is the biggest “dirty little secret in business.” Being open, honest, and creating an environment where everyone can speak their mind generates speed, reduces costs, and gets more people involved in the conversation.

Welch describes the crime of lack of candor by using the example of an employee consistently getting a “meets expectations” from their manager on annual performance reviews, even though the manager knows full well that it is undeserved. This often comes back around when an employee is let go in a downsizing and is completely caught off guard. This can create a scenario where the employees are left asking, “Why me, I’ve always gotten high marks in my performance evaluations?”


This is one of the most controversial of Mr. Welch’s topics, but in true Jack-form he sees no need to sugarcoat this one and chides naysayers for doing just that. In general terms, managers should assess their employees and separate their performance into 3 categories: top 20%, middle 70%, and bottom 10%. They must then act on that distinction.

Starting at the top, your top 20 are your stars and that should be obvious to everyone. They are visibly rewarded and recognized in every way possible. Then, there is your middle 70%. You should spend a great deal of your time assessing this group, identifying individuals with potential, and coaching them upward. Ignoring this group could cause you to lose future leaders on your team. Finally, with your bottom 10%, he makes it very clear: They have to go.

In summary, Welch has a unique, no excuses outlook on business and management. “Winning” offers deep insights and forward-thinking techniques for teamwork and leadership that can change how people work.

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