Recently I was at the World Business Forum. As I listened to what some of the world’s top business leaders considered our most significant leadership challenges, one sentiment stood out for me above all others – Jack Welch made the statement that, “the rhythm of business hasn’t changed in 40 years.” That’s profound… and true.

Jack Welch 2013

Ladies and gentlemen, that was not a compliment! Worse, it was not the first (or second) time I’ve heard that commentary from a top business leader… What is actually so depressing about that statement is the fact that little is actually ever done about it. People love to tell us what our problems are… and even share high-level academic theories and pointless observations – but where is the down and dirty “how” to make things better?

In my 25+ years in global business, the one thing I have consistently required of both my staff and my clients is to never bring a problem forward that they have not at least provisionally thought about potential solutions for. It is one thing to spout off the problems of your organization, your country or this world… if you have potential ideas and solutions to make things better. However, it is unfair, unjustified and unconscionable to suggest that something needs to change and then fail to suggest potential solutions as to how to do so.

To Mr. Welch’s credit, he is out there doing the opposite. He is not just talking about it – he is creating exciting change in the business world! He saw a major flaw – a chasm actually – and addressed it. Today’s professors teach from ancient lesson plans instead of throwing out those lesson plans and teaching students from what is actually going on in the world of business. The world is moving too fast and Faculty is institutionalized and moves too slow – lacking a mindset of continuous learning. Jack Welch’s solution – he started his own Management Institute to begin to teach students how to truly evolve as sustainable leaders.

He took a chance. He took action. He’s making a difference. Through People.

True, Mr. Welch has unlimited resources from which to draw from and do good with. But do you know why? Because for years he stood for something – he built a purpose driven business – he built a business that was as much about people as it was about products. He understood, as great leaders do, that if people win, the company wins: employees have better lives and people with better lives contribute more to the world… that companies that have better, happier people are more successful and can give more back to the world as well. Doing well, facilitating positive change, is what allows us all to do good in the world.

That is why the rhythm of business must change – because great companies are made from great people, not the other way around.  Problems without solutions… I think not! We have the capacity to actively choose positive solutions at any time…

What will the new rhythm of your company sound like?

Please engage the discussion and let us know how you plan to change the rhythm in your organization. Feel free to contact me at or by visiting our website at Check back soon for the next post on Leadership Across Boundaries and Borders.

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