By Phil Klutts
October 12, 2023

“Good Power” by Ginny Rometty

From the corridors of IBM to the chapters of "Good Power," Ginny Rometty’s book unfolds a narrative rich with leadership wisdom.

Sometimes you pick up a book by happen-stance and it ends up resonating so well that you read it twice. “Good Power” by Ginny Rometty might be my pick for my favorite book this year. It is practical, applicable, enjoyable, and relevant to business in 2023. The subtitle is “Leading positive change in our lives, work, and world.”

I cracked open “Good Power” because Rometty is a successful businesswoman and leading change is part of a leader’s job. Both of those aspects appealed to me as I was reviewing publication lists and staring at bookshelves to decide on a new book to read. Good Power was published in 2023 by Harvard Business School Publishing. Rometty retired as CEO of IBM in 2020 after starting with the company as an assistant systems engineer in 1981. Most of us will not see that same longevity in a company yet her experiences and breadth of industries and roles can make a connection to a typical current career path.

“Good Power” should be categorized as a memoir. Even Rometty refers to it as a “memoir with a purpose.” But it should also be flagged as a business book. It contains practical and actionable advice on managing teams, leadership, business decisions, and advocating for making the business world more equitable to all people.

The book follows Rometty’s life and career, starting with brief stories about her childhood and family dynamics, the influence of her mother’s work ethic, and what it means to be given opportunities to succeed in school. She relates stories of career advancement, frustrations, and risk in making business decisions. Difficult conversations are often a struggle for leaders and employees on both sides of such exchanges. Rometty shares a short of one of the first such conversations where her boss gives her some tough advice early in her advancement into management. The advice-giving and perspective can be helpful for new and experienced leaders needing encouragement to have tough conversations.

Rometty splits the book into three sections.

Part One is titled “The Power of Me: Changing a Life” and follows her early years.

Part Two: “The Power of We: Changing Work” chronicles Rometty’s rise in leadership. She reviews five principles that solidified as she became more senior at IBM. Those principles are “Being in Service Of, Building Belief, Knowing What Must Change and What Must Endure, Stewarding Good Tech and Inclusion, ” and finally “Being Resilient.” She acknowledges there are tensions inside each of these principles that must be navigated and shares stories about how she embraced and navigated them.

Part Three: “The Power of Us: Changing Our World” is about scaling good power to make systematic changes to the problems of the world. Rometty envisions a better future for more people. She recognizes our influence and mission are different than hers, and she relates her perspective on starting a movement and scaling power for good so we can do the same. The book ends with a (printed) hand-written note from Rometty to you, the reader. It’s a great message and a direct tie back to mentions within the book of what has helped make her successful.

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About Phil Klutts

Phil is an Edmond native and has managed to keep his wife here instead of traveling the world, which they both enjoy. They have two boys who love the outdoors, adventures, and learning new things. Phil is a problem-solver at heart and enjoys connecting people to the resources they need.

In addition to being the co-owner of Edmond Business, Phil founded the CK Group LLC after working for large and small businesses in the Energy, Construction, and Fitness industries. He focuses on helping small businesses and entrepreneurs improve their systems and processes. CK Group LLC's mission is to eliminate chaos and create clarity for small business by connecting vision, strategy, and implementation.