Jack Welch is my guru. Everybody in my company knows that. Two of his books that have really helped me in my business are Jack: Straight from the Gut and Winning. In the first, he says “change before you have to”. GE was doing very well when he joined it but he made changes because he knew that if he didn’t, in the long term, their return on investments would drop. During his time at GE, the firm gave maximum shareholder value. Welch says, “Face reality as it is, not as it was or as you wish to be.” In my company, I encourage people to tell me how things really are because if you don’t see the real issues, it can impact the business.
In Winning, which is about planning and people practices, he says that in a company 20 percent of the people should be exceptional, 70 percent significant, and only 10 percent should require improvement.
Another author that I admire is Ram Charan. I have read every book that he has written. Know-How talks about the operating mechanics in every company. He explains the budgeting system and how everything happens in terms of delivering results. For me, the operating mechanism is how you manage the enterprise right from performance reviews, to the budgeting plan.
Charan discusses eight important skills for a CEO. He says self confidence is critical; those with self confidence are the ones who succeed eventually. You should have courage in your own ability. But you should not be arrogant.
He also talks about traits that can interfere with success. For a CEO, ambition is important but if you use it to win at all costs, it derails you.
Amit Jatia is vice chairman, McDonalds, West and South India