GENERAL COLIN POWELL SPEECH
A LEADERSHIP PRIMER – LESSONS ABOUT LEADERSHIP
LESSON ONE –
Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off
LESSON TWO –
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 have concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.
LESSON THREE –
Don’t be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgement. Elites can become so inbred that they produce haemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.
LESSON FOUR –
Don’t be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard. Leadership does not emerge from blind obedience to anyone.
LESSON FIVE –
Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted, the leader must be doubly vigilant
LESSON SIX –
You don’t know what you can get away with until you try
LESSON SEVEN –
Keep looking below surface appearances. Don’t shrink from doing so (just) because you might not like what you find.
LESSON EIGHT –
Organization doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish anything either. Theories of management don’t much matter. Endeavours succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.
LESSON NINE –
Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing
LESSON TEN –
Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it.
LESSON ELEVEN –
Fit no stereotypes. Don’t chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission.
LESSON TWELVE –
Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. Spare me the grim litany of the “realist” and give me the unrealistic aspirations of the optimist.
LESSON THIRTEEN –
When picking people - look for intelligence and judgement, and most critcally, 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.
LESSON FOURTEEN –
Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand
LESSON FIFTEEN –
Part I: Use the formula P=40-70, in which case P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired. Part II: Once the information is in the 40 – 70 range, go with your cut. Procrastination on the name of reducing risk actually increases risk.
LESSON SIXTEEN –
The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise.
LESSON SEVENTEEN –
Have fun in your command. Don’t always run at a breakneck pace. Take 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 EIGHTEEN –
Command is lonely.