Friday, November 13, 2015

Leadership Primer by General Colin Powell

Having celebrated Veteran’s Day this past week, my thoughts revolved around great military leaders and their abilities to lead in the most stressful of situations. One such contemporary leader, General Colin Powell, authored a no-nonsense “Leadership Primer” with the following lessons for us all to consider.

Lesson 1 – “Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.”

Lesson 2 – “The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”

Lesson 3 – “Don’t be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment. Elites can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.”

Lesson 4 – Don’t be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard.”

Lesson 5 – “Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.”

Lesson 6 – “You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.”

Lesson 7 – “Keep looking below surface appearances. Don’t shrink from doing so just because you might not like what you find.”

Lesson 8 – “Organization doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish anything either. Theories of management don’t much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the PEOPLE involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.”

Lesson 9 – “Organizational charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing.”

Lesson 10 – “Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it.”

Lesson 11 – “Fit no stereotypes. Don’t chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission.”

Lesson 12 – “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”

Lesson 13 – “When picking people look for intelligence, judgment, and most critically a capacity to anticipate, to see around the corners. Also look for loyalty, integrity, a high energy drive, a balanced ego, and the drive to get things done.”

Lesson 14 – “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through the argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.”

Lesson 15 – “Don’t take action if you only have enough information to give you less that a 40% chance of being right, but don’t wait until you have enough facts to be 100% sure, because by then it’s almost always too late.”

Lesson 15 – “The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise.”

Lesson 17 – “Have fun in your command. Don’t always run at breakneck pace. Take a leave when you’ve earned it. Spend time with your family. Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.”

Lesson 18 – “Command is lonely.”

“Leadership is the art of accomplishing more than the science of management says is possible.”

I find it curious that great leadership is great leadership…no matter the industry.

Be good to yourself…

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