ATLC #20 – Write a Leader’s Note

At that time, Jack was famous for his personal leader’s notes. In business, Jack Welch was the most famous advocate of cvs2bvs in the US.

Jack used cvs2bvs at GE to help him change the culture of a 100-year-old manufacturer to the most valuable company (at the time he left it) in the history of the world!

I was invited to GE soon after he became chairman and CEO. In the 1980s I spent several years, at his request, installing the cvs2bvs brain software at GE. He wrote to me saying,

“I would love to have a management team that really understood the cvs2bvs algorithm. It’s the ‘value-added’ role in the management process”.

In his book about his time at GE called, Jack (Warner Books 2001), he wrote, “It would make each of us wake up with the goal of “Finding a Better Way Every Day”. It was a phrase that became a slogan, put up on the walls of GE factories and offices around the world”.

Jack also used cvs2bvs in crisis management situations and on one very serious occasion involving a crisis between GE and President Reagan’s Defense Secretary, Caspar Weinberger, Jack asked me to meet with him privately, in Manhattan, to apply cvs2bvs to finding a solution.

He also told me that it helped him design new concepts like ‘Boundarylessness’ and ‘Work-Out’. He wrote, “Suddenly, “Finding a Better Way Every Day” wasn’t just a slogan. It was the essence of boundaryless behaviour, and it defined our expectations”.

As my Dad used to say, “Nobody’s perfect!” and Jack had his share of setbacks but he was a genuine strategic thinker and one of the most accomplished business leaders of his time.

Jack was famous for the little hand-written notes he would send to people. He sent me several and the one I prized the most was, “Michael, you are a friend of our company”.

Hand-written notes are a very personal and powerful communication. I have known several leaders who use handwritten notes with great effect.

I first was taught to use ‘The Leader’s Note’ in the Army and I saw recently where the Duchess of Cornwall (who is Royal Colonel of the 4th Battalion The Rifles) sent handwritten notes to all the soldiers in her regiment who were wounded in Iraq.


Lieutenant Colonel Patrick Sanders, commander of 4 Rifles, said,

She bled with us throughout the tour. She wrote by hand to all the wounded and the families of those killed. She gave each of the wounded presents – whisky or hampers. We feel incredibly lucky to have her as our Royal Colonel. At a time when people in England did not really know what we were going through, she did.

entrepreneurs-writing-handwritten-thank-you-notesDFQ #20:

PTO: Write a Leader’s Note!

On a postcard, engraved writing paper or special paper for the purpose (not email), write a short personal note of encouragement (around 10 to 100 words) to someone who sees you as their leader or mentor.

Post that you have completed this PTO within the next 24 hours saying who, when, where etc:

251 thoughts on “ATLC #20 – Write a Leader’s Note

  1. I sent a hand written note to my son Adam who is turning 18 in a few short days. I laid the note on his laptop overnight while he was asleep. This way, he would see it first thing in the morning when he sits down for school work. The note expressed how proud I am of his effort and provided encouragement for his journey ahead.

  2. who: a high school student that was teased by others when expressing an interest in a medical career.
    when: as a substitute twice in the last few months.
    where: a local high school
    To be delivered to office next time I’m at the school.

    Thank you Lin for taking what I taught you and putting it to use. It is rewarding when I learn that students put what they learn to work. Keep up the good work and encourage you fellow students to use what you have learned. I’m sure with your attitude you will achieve your goals.

  3. I have posted a note to a team member who has completed a tough project that had a 1/1 go live date.

  4. I’ve written a note to my wife. She is embarking on an intense 6 month training program and I am an integral part of why she decided to do this training as well as being a part of the team coaching her.

    The note was one of encouragement and acknowledgement of her leadership in this decision to elevate herself well beyond her current status.

  5. Who: my class mate, was having problems with lectures
    When: last semester
    where: Midrand graduate institute

    To be sent by post tomorrow

    Congrats for passing the exams with distinction, it was tough semester but you had confidence in me to help.
    That gave me confidence and encouragement, I thank you.

  6. Who: My Wife
    When & Where: Drafted and left a hand written note this morning before I left for work for her to read when she gets up.

    The note was to thank her for providing the foundation stone for the family that we are all able to build our lives upon as a result of her unwavering and selfless dedication to us all everyday.

  7. To my mentor (the first mentor in my life who deceased but who will always live in my heart): Thank you immensely for encouraging me, believing in me and making me more confident and better, for sharing your life stories, wisdom with me. I have a feeling that I am in the place where I should be to fulfill my life assignment. I am not afraid to admit whenever I am wrong. I try to be honest with myself and people. I know I am guided by the good.

  8. I sent a postcard to a friend of mine. I don’t think she get much validation in her life for who she is and for her fabulous talents. I shared with her a quote from Wayne Dyer’s New years message about living in the moment. She has become excited about some big plans she is making and I hope that these words might encourage her to keep going.

  9. I wrote a note to a new staff member as encouragement and congratulations after commendation was received from a customer. Also to reinforce she is doing really well and to offer ‘my door is always open’ for assistance in any matters, as she is new and needs a mentor.

  10. To my step-son who had a rough beginning. How proud I am that he overcame many obstacles to get his degree and that one step follows the other in the walk of life.

  11. For my students who are hardworking and committed, to each and every one of them for not giving up in their learning. “Dont give up for your perseverance will one day pay off, you can do it.”I will give this note to my students when I meet them in my next IT class.

  12. A note was sent to a dear younger friend who has received a degree and is working in family counseling. This is challenging work which is rewarding and needed. I’m so proud of her diligence having her own young people in colleges and/or the workplace. It was a joy to write this note.

  13. I just wrote to an old friend who is having difficulty and has chosen to take help from me. His difficulties are personal, and have resulted in his doubting himself. Gently presenting the world view and philosophy we’ve both been practicing for almost 40 years, I’m hoping that this encouragement will help him not only weather the storm, but go forward in a positive way.

  14. I wrote a note to my wife, as she is currently going through the interview process for a new job and she is questioning the move to a new city and her valve to the company.

  15. I feel being the youngest in my workplace and more often than not the youngest at any event and in groups, so as such I do not have somebody who see’s me as their leader or mentor. Well not that I know of anyway.

    So instead I will use the opposite.
    Each year at the end of the year my general manager gives the whole division a personalised hand written notes and I remember the feeling when I first read one, it was extremely powerful.

  16. Went to a party for a relative who has had some quite tragic experiences sent a note thanking her and telling how much I valued the time with her. Left the note so that received it before she was alone. It felt very personal and touching – a way to show I cared.

  17. I sent a note to a friend who is experiencing financial troubles and gave what I thought was sound financial advice,will follow it up in a couple of weeks .hopefully it has helped.

  18. I just encouraged my 2ic to keep up the good work and lead by example to the team on F7 ing orders that I know he does not agree with as he sees hypocracy and the lack of keeping it simple in his actions.

  19. With out having a leadership role and being young in my team, I chose to write a note to my two and a half year old daughter. We sat down together and read it and discussed everything she could think of about the note. Having a personal touch does make messages and emotion easier to pickup when receiving information.

  20. Wrote a note to a person in my team who is leaving for personal reasons and will be sadly missed. I wrote to wish him well in his future endeavours and hoped he will stay in touch.
    It is difficult sometimes to verbally say things you want to say without emotion getting in the way.
    I found this a good way to let him know things which are important to be said.

  21. Went to a working in my company saying that’s she has done a great job over the last couple of weeks as we have had a lot of staff away on leave.

  22. Completed task

    Written and given to the youngest member of my team who continues to surprise me with his great work ethic.

  23. Written – will send today. Sending to a person that has been with company for a while in a management position and is currently in a flat spot.

  24. I have now written 4 of these notes to people I think deserve them the first 2 to my kids, the second two to to my senior staff who have been working very hard since opening the new store.

  25. Completed:
    Rachel – showroom consultant, yesterday. Words of encouragement to say keep up the good work

  26. Written words of appreciation and encouragement to my one nephew and four nieces who are at different stages of their schooling/under-grad education. The little ones have run around with glee showing the card to their playmates and then pasting it in one of their notebooks.

  27. Although I don’t see myself as a Leader or Mentor as a husband I still thought that my wife deserved a hand written note of appreciation. I think I’ll use this form of recognition/appreciation more often to the people around me.

  28. To my son about his increased interest in developing his skills in sport that don’t come naturally to him.

  29. if I make your job more enjoyable by teaching you ‘our’ way, my pillow is very confortable at night.

  30. To my daughter for when she is older, last night. I wrote the note and put it in a book that hopefully she will one day look in and find the note. I wonder if I’ll remember.

  31. Who: My operations team

    When: Today

    Where: In my office

    What: Inspiring and encouraging them to pursue despite the difficulties

    Why: Sometimes they feel that they do not have enough inspiration and guidance from me, their leader

  32. I am writing a letter to my children to explain to them that how grateful and happy I am to have them in my life. They are the greatest joy in my life.
    Why I wrote this is to leave them a legacy that they can refer back to when I am not here anymore and realize that their father loved them greatly.
    What did I write: I told them about my experience growing up without a father and how that effected me. I am hoping to be able to give them some words of wisdom that they can hopefully use to make their lives better.

  33. To My Team,
    Don’t forget that our aim is to establish some new social language and concepts that aid women understanding of how they can develop their abilities to live happily, helping them to identify areas for good opportunities and for future good guidance.
    We believe that the need to better understand life is not an academic exercise; real success is crucially important to the future of those who want to take a right way of living. Don’t for get that we provide clear ways for women to understand the thoughts that drive their success.
    We also believe that looking more closely at things allows us to consider underlying realities, putting social, economic and political views into a new context. We are very confident that our on-going projects could shape the fabric of our society. I think that we have the right to invite our ladies to bring about various educational and training activities. With this we intend to join hands with some of the best NGOs to bring about a difference.

  34. who – my younger brother
    when – after visiting him and discussing scenario of his career
    D you are an amazing person who is self-less in giving your time and efforts to all of us. I would like you to give yourself permission to lead, confidence to believe in your ideas and be the decision maker to lead the business forward. You can do it ! and I am always there as a member of your board 🙂

  35. 3 notes – one each to my daughter & son to let them know how proud I am to be their father – one to my wife acknowledging the courage effort she puts into her business.

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