August 26 2014

The Five Steps to Winning We Learned from Jack Welch

Tom Feeney, Safelite® President and CEO


Actor Charlie Sheen made the phrase “winning” infamous; however, the true innovator in winning is Jack Welch, former chairman and CEO of General Electric, whose 40 years of business leadership continues to inspire to this day.

Jack’s insights, which he shares in his book Winning, became even more relevant to us when he agreed to be the keynote speaker at our national leadership meeting a few years ago. This annual event is designed to motivate and educate senior-level executives and managers to achieve the next year’s goals. It’s an integral part in ensuring goal alignment with our overall business strategy and building our People Powered, Customer Driven culture.

As our 67-year old company is under-going a second transformation, Jack’s words of wisdom have applied to all facets of our company’s growth.

In the next few months, we’ll share the five key lessons we took away from meeting with Jack. Chances are it will be a good reminder for all leaders as well. After all, we know leadership is key creating a People Powered, Customer Driven culture. Up first…

1. You must continuously change and reinvent your business.

According to Jack, status quo and complacency will lead to an organization’s demise faster than anything else. Despite several difficult acquisitions and mergers, and changes in ownership, Safelite AutoGlass is the leading performer in the U.S. vehicle glass repair and replacement industry. When I took over as CEO in 2008, sales were fine. Our people seemed fine. But I had a nagging suspicion we weren’t as fine as it appeared. After all, how good are you really performing if you’re not getting better each day? It seemed to me, we were a little stagnant.

To propel us forward, our senior leadership team introduced Destination 2012 in 2009. It was a clear mission of the company we wanted to become and the roadmap of how we planned to get there. The mission was (and still is): to become the natural choice for vehicle repair and replacement. The blueprint outlined several very key initiatives. First, to become the natural choice, it wasn’t good enough to satisfy a customer – we must delight them. And so Customer Delight became our first pillar to support our transformation. Second, we realized that the only way we could truly achieve Customer Delight was to have the best talent who are engaged in the company’s mission and able to deliver world-class service. This required a new “People First” approach for the company. Destination 2012 was an effective plan that allowed us to re-charge and reinvent our company.

But, we couldn’t stop there. So, in 2013, we updated our approach to People Powered, Customer Driven. People Powered better encapsulates the type of culture we want to build where results are achieved thanks to our talented and engaged employees. And being customer driven means we must look at our business through the eyes of our customers, let their needs drive the future of our services and create a memorable experience every time.

In our experience, Jack is absolutely right: we must always seek to stay relevant and embrace change.

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