Leadership Lessons from Colin Powell

16 Great Leadership Lessons from Colin Powell.  Below are 16 leadership lessons that I’ve adapted from Oren Harari, Univ. of San Francisco.  I found them to be quite useful for me.  I hope you find them useful as you continue your leadership journey.

1. Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.

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.

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

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

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

6. Command is lonely.

7. You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.

8. Keep looking below surface appearances. Don’t shrink from doing so (just) because you might not like what you find.

9. 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 the great deeds.

10. Organization charts and hence titles count for next to nothing.

11. Never let your ego get so close to your position that when you position goes, your ego does with it.

12. Fit no stereotypes. Don’t chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission.

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

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

15. Use the formula P=40 to 70, in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired. Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, go with your gut.

16. The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong, unless proven otherwise.