Colin Powell leadership principles

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01I want to hear all the rough edges of all arguments. I dont want to concur things to death and coordinate things to death. I want to hear from you.

Create a culture where all feel heard & are empowered to develop & propose solutions. Encourage noise with creative clashes and diversity. Look for great ideas wherever they come from, at every level. Use tech to encourage & speed up interaction & drive inclusion. And can the sycophants and then hire for great ideasElicit Diverse & empowered Ideas

02Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off

Leaders who care more about being liked than being effective are unlikely to confront those who need confronting .

Be polite and civil because frightened people dont step up, but be prepared to piss people off when it is right to do so.

Reward your best performers and get rid of non-performers. And encourage a thread of creative disruptionDont seek popularity

03Why would you follow somebody around a corner? Or up the hill? Or into a dark room? The reason is trust

Influence & credibility rely on trust. Trust relies on competence, character, courage, loyalty, & confidence.

Communicate often in the trenches & be seen.

Be a servant leader that helps people accomplish vision-aligned goals by giving them tools and turning them looseEstablish trust4

You can issue all the memos & give all the speeches you want, but if people dont see you putting forth your best effort every day, they wont either

Have integrity and display integrityPractice empathy & selflessnessUse influence, not authorityWalk the talk045

05Give me the right people and I dont much care what organization you give me. Good things will happen. Give me the wrong people and it doesnt matter what you do with the organization. Bad things will happen.

Powell advises us to hire, place, & promote for intelligence & judgement, a capacity to anticipate, loyalty, integrity, a high-energy drive, a balanced ego, and a drive to get things doneHire for talent & values, not qualifications. promote those whose values align with the organization, and surround yourself with people as good or better than you and who create synergyget the right people6


You were given 2 ears and 1 mouth. Use them in that ratio

Learn everywhere you canBring outsiders into the discussion when you canUse every means to encourage communicationFind people you trust (and who wont manage you or filter) and give them a way to provide you with feedbackUse symbols like round tables, a literally open office door or no dress code to encourage communicationlisten7

07If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude

Dont get too far from execution as you ascend the hierarchy own the big picture, but remember that the big picture is delivered through thousands of daily detailsAvoid analysis paralysis attending to the fine points is not a license to micro-manage, hide from a decision, or delayInvest in process and tech to facilitate timely & relevant dataOwn the detail8

08Constantly look below the surface appearances and spin. Dont shrink from doing so just because you might not like what you find

Listen to your gut. Relentlessly dig and probe with a clear, unblinking eye until youre satisfiedContinually pick at, and harass, the organizations routines. Shine a light into the dark, unquestioned places of conventionAsk what are we doing, right or wrong, and how can it be improvedquestion9

09Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it

Be careful of your habitsBe careful of conventional wisdom built from what has worked in the past be ready to change before the world surprises you with forced changeWhat got you here, will likely not get you there. Be always ready to reinvent yourself and your career.Check your ego10

10External change is endemic, proliferating, and accelerating. Therefore leaders must rewire perceptions, connecting the dots in more productive and positive ways, using change as the driver for growth

Ask what if and why not all the timeLearn new skills and encourage those around you to as wellRevisit your mission/vision regularlyLet change lead growth11

11Everyone wants me to reorganize, but Im not reorganizing until Ive got these folks on my side and believing in my leadership

Consensus does not mean, lets chew on this until we can all get happy with it but it does mean aggressive inclusion in the decision-making processEnsure a personal commitment from every member of the team everyone is expected and invited to participatePush, but be respectful of the limits of the organization. Change is continuous and iterativeSeek consensus, but be prepared to move ahead decisively

Seek consensus but dont let it rule12

12Fit no stereotypes. Dont chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the teams mission

Always be ready to change, beware of packaged solutions and frameworks, and continually invest in and build your management tool boxAvoid one approach13

13We had to make sure that we took the new mission and drove it down to the last private. Whoever came in and emptied the trash can at night had to understand the vision

Whether its the realm of values, policies, performance standards, or appropriate conduct, keep it simple. Define the rules of the game clearly and expect everyone to play by them. Then, align daily activity with overarching objectivessimplify14

14Effective leadership depends upon a thorough immersion in the here and now and the ability to shift strategy and tactics as the situation warrants. One size never fits all.

Dont fight the last war. Most leaders fall into the trap of returning to the familiar when things get rough

Lead the situation15

15You dont know what you can get away with until you try

Great managers seek forgiveness, not permission. By taking calculated, intelligent risks, you are likely to accomplish more than by playing it safe. But, in order to encourage this behaviour, leaders must not punish failure an honest, well-meaning, first-time mistake.Push the envelope16

16Once we have looked at all the rough edges and we have made a decision as to what we are going to do, then we are all going to move out in that decision and stick with it, with coherence and consistency over time, unless it has been proven that we should move in a different direction

Execution is key. Do not articulate a vision unless you are prepared to implement it with overwhelming strength,. Stay cool under fire, think big, act fast, and go for the big win. Pick your battles so you can eat what you bite off, but be willing to take advantage of opportunity as it arises.Close w/the enemy17

17Our ability to successfully perform our mission depends first and foremost on the quality of our people. Were all part of one quality family, working together as a family. No component more important than any other.

Ignore hierarchyDepend on people, not plansSpend at least 50% of your time on peoplepeople are partners18

18Every organization should tolerate rebels who tell the emperor he has no clothes

Tolerate rebels encourage them to challenge you and your teamEmphasize respect while disagreeingChallenge the pros to get a better solutionchallenge19

19Plans dont accomplish work. Goal charts on walls dont accomplish is people that get things done

Respect authority, but dont be cowed by itUse org charts as a guideline, but be ready to abandon them if the reality is differentTitles are just titles- they dont translate to wisdomDont rely on org charts & titles20

20The people in the field are closest to the problem, closest to the situation, therefore, that is where the real wisdom is

If your division is not decentralized, consider a deep, pervasive, structural, and cultural reorganizationUse technology to help collect front-line informationDecentralization is no excuse for being out of touch. Stay involved and supportiveTrust the one in the trench21

21Never let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision. Never step on enthusiasm

Spread optimism around the organizationDont take counsel of your fears or naysayersAchieve!Make optimism a priority22

22I told the ambassadors to take seriously their role as the Presidents personal representatives. At the same time, I encouraged them to have great fun in their new assignment. Fortunately, the two are not mutually exclusive

Work hard and play hardCreate a fun environment for othersMinimize unnecessary stressHave fun in your command23

23Never become so consumed by your career that nothing is left that belongs only to you and your family. Dont allow your profession to become the whole of your existence

Take leave when youve earned itDont clock hours for hours sakeDont always run at a breakneck paceStrive for balance24

24Sitting alone in the dark in the back seat of my car, I felt full of foreboding. I was going to be involved in conducting a war, one that I had urged, one that was sure to spill blood. Had I been right? Had my advice been sound?

Accept responsibilityLead by exampleKnow when to exitPrepare to be lonely25SHARE THIS DECK & FOLLOW ME(please-oh-please-oh-please-oh-please)Selena Sol asks.. up to date with my future slideshare postsselena@selenasol.com