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Nigel Walpole What do John F. Kennedy and Jack Welch have in common?

Ever wondered what John F Kennedy and Jack Welch have in common? To put it simply they are both two fascinating characters who share a view on:

Implementing learning from a leadership point of viewJohn -F-Kennedy -quote

I have always thought this to be a fantastic quote. The only sadness is that it was never delivered as it is from a speech that John F. Kennedy prepared for delivery in Dallas, on the day of his assassination in November 1963.

I particularly like it because it offers two meaningful interpretations.

Firstly, it is unlikely that leaders have got to their position of leadership without understanding the importance of preparation and knowledge and the dedication to maintain and improve it.

Secondly, leaders recognise that nothing stands still – everybody in their business must strive constantly to learn new things and adapt to the perpetual change experienced in every organisation.

Using these perspectives and reflecting on our experience of leadership training, here are some practical and effective questions for the content of leadership training.

  1. Leadership is about ‘improvement’ - what can be learned from previous experiences and other projects.

    Could a change in personnel bring about improvement, new people or new skills?

  2. Leadership is about ‘why’ – what is the bigger picture, the environment, the marketplace the business context.

    Do managers in the organisation fully recognise these?

  3. Leadership is about ‘values’ – how does a leader identify them, describe them and ‘live’ them.

    Does everyone in the organisation understand what these values mean for them personally?

  4. Leadership is about ‘commitment’ - to a value, a task, a meeting, a customer or a member of staff.

    Does everyone in the organisation have the skills to deliver that commitment?

  5. Leadership is about ‘development’ - gaining knowledge, having a development plan.

    Does everyone in the organisation build and pursue development plans?

  6. Leadership is about ‘knowledge’ – become a knowledge leader.

    Does everyone have access to the information they need?

Each of these six key aspects of leadership learning and behaviour has the subordinate message about the learning and development of others. What becomes clear is that effective leaders need to be passionate about their own learning – and the learning of others.

What about Jack Welch, erstwhile Chairman and CEO of General Electric? Well he notably commented that he spent about

“…40% of his time developing the next generation of leaders”.

So, Jack Welch and John F. Kennedy were two great leaders who understoon the importance of Learning & Development!

Want to implement this leadership learning culture into your organisation? Get in touch today to see what we can do to help your organisation lead like the best.


Nigel Walpole

Nigel Walpole, MD, Bray Leino Learning

In my series of blogs I’ll talk through my thoughts on some of the key issues facing managers in the workplace - lessons learnt, tips for success and general musings.

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