Retired (Four Star) General Colin Powell has held a variety of leadership and staff positions throughout his life, and has been the recipient of dozens of awards, some of which include two Presidential Medals of Freedom, the President’s Citizens Medal, the Congressional Gold Medal, and the Secretary of State Distinguished Service Medal.
He’s an advocate of working at what you’re passionate about and what you’re good at (we call it your “magic dust”). General Powell also believes leaders must never lose their composure, that they should be inspirational and mentor others, and genuinely care and express concern for staff and co-workers.
General Powell’s 13 Rules of Leadership
1. It “ain’t” as bad as you think. This rule reflects an attitude and not a prediction…Things will get better. You will make them better.
I think whether you’re having setbacks or not, the role of a leader is to always display a winning attitude.
2. Get mad, then get over it. I never lose control of myself.
3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it. Loyalty is disagreeing strongly, and loyalty is executing faithfully.
4. It can be done! Don’t surround yourself with instant skeptics. At the same time, don’t shut out skeptics and colleagues who give you solid counter-views.
5. Be careful what you choose. You may get it. Don’t rush into things.
6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision. Superior leadership is often a matter of superb instinct…your judgment will be needed to select from the best courses of action.
Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through arguments, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.
7. You can’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours. Since ultimate responsibility is yours, make sure the choice is yours and you are not responding to the pressure and desire of others.
8. Check small things. Leaders have to have a feel for small things-a feel for what is going on in the depths of an organization where small things reside.
9. Share credit. People need recognition and a sense of worth…Share the credit, take the blame, and quietly find out and fix things that went wrong.
10. Remain calm. Be kind. Kindness, like calmness, reassures followers and holds their confidence. Kindness connects you with other human beings in a bond of mutual respect.
11. Have a vision. Be demanding. Purpose is the destination of a vision. It energizes that vision, gives it force and drive. It should be positive and powerful.
Fit no stereotypes. Don’t chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission.
12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers. Fear is a normal human emotion. We can learn to be aware when fear grips us, and can train to operate through and in spite of our fear. If, on the other hand, we don’t understand that fear is normal and has to be controlled and overcome, it will paralyze us and stop us in our tracks. We will no longer think clearly or analyze rationally. We prepare for it and control it; we never let it control us. If it does, we cannot lead.
13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. Believing in yourself, believing in your purpose, believing you will prevail, and demonstrating passion and confidence is a force multiplier.
Are you passionate about what you do? Do you believe in yourself and always maintain your composure? Maybe the rules can help!