General Colin Powell

Chairman (Ret), Joint Chiefs of Staff

A Leadership Primer

"Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off."

ood leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which eans that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions. It's evitable, if you're honorable. Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign mediocrity: you'll avoid the tough decisions, you'll avoid confronting the ople who need to be confronted, and you'll avoid offering differential wards based on differential performance because some people might t upset. Ironically, by procrastinating on the difficult choices, by trying t to get anyone mad, and by treating everyone equally "nicely" regardle their contributions, you'll simply ensure that the only people you'll wind angering are the most creative and productive people in the organizatio

Either case is a failure of leadership. Accordingly. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. they are more likely to create an environment whe blem analysis replaces blame. they build so ny barriers to upward communication that the very idea of someone low he hierarchy looking up to the leader for help is ludicrous. One." his were a litmus test. and the organization suffers accordin al leaders make themselves accessible and available. the majority of CEOs would fail. the porate culture they foster often defines asking for help as weakness or ure. . even as they demand hig ndards. Two. so people cover up their gaps.LESSON 2 "The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They show concer the efforts and challenges faced by underlings.

Elites can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.LESSON 3 "Don't be buffaloed by experts and elites. agility. Policies that emanate from ry towers often have an adverse impact on the people out in the field o are fighting the wars or bringing in the revenues. They don't have the money to subsidize lofty elites. speed. Experts often possess more data than judgment. either. in the face of these trends. Real leaders are lant. risk. The sident answers the phone and drives the truck when necessary." all companies and start-ups don't have the time for analytically detached perts. egalitarianism. everyon the payroll visibly produces and contributes to bottom-line results or the tory. informality. they often forget who "brought them dance": things like all-hands involvement. daring. But as companies get bigger. and combative. . rket intimacy.

one of you is redundant. seek them out as mentors and partne ut remember that even the pros may have leveled out in terms of their arning and skills." earn from the pros. observe them. Good leadership ncourages everyone's evolution. even in their own backyard. . Sometimes even the pros can become complacent and zy. Leadership does not emerge from blind obedience to anyone. Xerox arry Rand was right on target when he warned his people that if you hav yes-man working for you.LESSON 4 "Don't be afraid to challenge the pros.

(Think about supreme athletic coaches like Jimmy Johnson." ategy equals execution.LESSON 5 "Never neglect details. ev y. Pat Riley d Tony La Russa). who all ependently asserted that the Job of a leader is not to be the chief organi the chief dis-organizer. good leaders understand something else: an obsessive routin arrying out the details begets conformity and complacency. . When everyone's mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant. Oticon's Lars Kolind and the late Bill McGowan of MCI. Bad ones. which in tur s everyone's mind. but they pay attention to details. even those who fancy themselves as gressive "visionaries. That is why even as they pay attention to details. Good leader egate and empower others liberally. All the great ideas and visions in the world are rthless if they can't be implemented rapidly and efficiently. th tinually encourage people to challenge the process. They implicitly derstand the sentiment of CEO leaders like Quad Graphic's Harry adracchi." think they're somehow "above" operational detail adoxically.

" W true.' I can." whereas the good ones believed. But they also realize a fact of life in most organizatio ou ask enough people for permission. "If I haven't explic en told 'no.LESSON 6 "You don't know what you can get away with until you try. you'll inevitably come up against meone who believes his job is to say "no. . "it's easier to get forgiveness than permission. don't ask. They dent." So the moral is." There's a world of difference between these two poin view. Le ective middle managers endorsed the sentiment.' I can't do it." u know the expression. not reckless. "If I haven't explicitly b d 'yes. Good leaders don't wait for official blessing to try things out.

Don't shrink from doing so (just) because you might not like what you find. don't fix it" is the slogan of the complacent. a call to non-arms. In this sort of culture. you won't find ple who pro-actively take steps to solve problems as they emerge. Here tle tip: don't invest in these companies.LESSON 7 "Keep looking below surface appearances. lin predictable fashion. It's an excuse for inaction. Pure fantasy. the arrogant or red. ." t ain't broke. It's a mind-set that umes (or hopes) that today's realities will continue tomorrow in a tidy.

restructuring an e latest management fad.LESSON 8 "Organization doesn't really accomplish anything. retained and. which may explain why so ma p managers immerse their calendar time in deal making. your best assets are people. the brightest. the most creative a racted. most importantly. people are assumed to be empty chess eces to be moved around by grand viziers. Plans don't accomplish anything. But how many leaders really "w e talk" with this stuff? Too often. either. unleashed? . We've heard this pression so often that it's become trite. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds. Theories of management don't much matter." a brain-based economy. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. How many immerse themselves in the goal of eating an environment where the best.

In well-run anizations. but instead possess pizzazz. non-lead management may be formally anointed with all the perks and frills ociated with high positions. but they have little influence on others. At best. an official status conferring the ability to give orders and uce obedience. If people really owed organization charts. But titles mean little in terms of real power. titles are also pretty meaningless. companies would collapse. . which is the acity to influence and inspire. they advertise me authority.LESSON 9 Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing. d genuine caring for teammates and products? On the flip side. nothing ganization charts are frozen. apar m their ability to extract minimal compliance to minimal standards. Have you ever noticed that people will sonally commit to certain individuals who on paper (or on the organizati rt) possess little authority. drive. expertise. anachronistic photos in a work place that ou be as dynamic as the external environment around you.

your ego goes with it. The most mportant question in performance evaluation becomes not. One reason that even large organizations wither is that managers won't challenge old. "How much id you change it?" . "How well id you perform your job since the last time we met?" but. But eal leaders understand that. comfortable ways of doing things. Effective leaders create a climate where people’s worth is etermined by their willingness to learn new skills and grab new esponsibilities. thus perpetually reinventing their jobs. nowadays. change is stifled by people who cling to familiar turfs and job escriptions. every one of our jobs is becomin bsolete. The proper response is to obsolete our activities before someon lse does.LESSON 10 "Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes." oo often.

LESSON 11 "Fit no stereotypes. others require long. reduces the leader's credibi d drains organizational coffers. Leaders honor their core values they are flexible in how they execute them. . The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team's mission. They understand that nagement techniques are not magic mantras but simply tools to be ched for at the right times. Blindly following a particular fad generat dity in thought and action. Sometimes speed to market is more importa n total quality. loose leashes. Don't chase the latest management fads. Sometimes an unapologetic directive is more appropriat n participatory discussion. Some situations require the leader to hover sely." ting from fad to fad creates team confusion.

we can be the best. I am not talking about stoica epting organizational stupidity and performance incompetence with a "w worry?" smile. we can achieve awesome goals. .LESSON 12 "Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. I am talking about a gung-ho attitude that says "we can nge things here." give me the unrealistic aspirations he optimist any day. So is t act of cynicism and pessimism." ripple effect of a leader's enthusiasm and optimism is awesome. Leaders who whine and blame engende se same behaviors among their colleagues." re me the grim litany of the "realist.

integrity. Good leaders stack the deck in their favor ht in the recruitment phase. degrees a or titles. energy. w often do our recruitment and hiring processes tap into these attributes e often than not.LESSON 13 "Powell's Rules for Picking People:” Look for intelligence and judgment. A string of job descriptions a recruit held yesterday seem to be re important than who one is today. and the drive to get things done. what they can contribute tomorrow. Also look for loyalty. we ignore them in favor of length of resume. a capacity to anticipate. to see around corners. a high energy drive. and most critically. balan the drive to get things done. . w well their values mesh with those of the organization. willing novice in the fundamentals of your business fairly readily. You can train a ght. a balanced ego. judgment. but a lot harder to train someone to have integrity.

Stupid. The result: clarity of purpose. not tentative and ambiguous.LESSON 14 "Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers. Their visions and rities are lean and compelling. They convey an avering firmness and consistency in their actions. credibility of leadersh integrity in organization. debate and doubt. Their sions are crisp and clear. to offer a solution everybody can understand. which they use to drive daily aviors and choices among competing alternatives. who can cut through argument. aligned with the pictu he future they paint." ctive leaders understand the KISS principle. over-arching goals and values. The culate vivid. not cluttered and buzzword-laden. Keep It Simple. .

but don't wait until you have enough facts 100 percent sure. essive delays in the name of information-gathering breeds "analysis alysis. in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired." Procrastination in the name of reducing risk actually increases r . go with your gut. because by then it is almost always too late.LESSON 15 Part I: "Use the formula P=40 to 70. Today.” Part II: "Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range." n't take action if you have only enough information to give you less than percent chance of being right.

not the ones who are counting analyzing them." often. . Percy Barnevik of Asea wn Boveri. and Richard Branson of Virgin have kept their corporate staff a bare-bones minimum . respectively? Shift the power and the financial accountab he folks who are bringing in the about fewer than 100 central corporate ffers for global $30 billion-plus ABB? Or around 25 and 3 for multi-billion cor and Virgin.LESSON 16 "The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong. the reverse defines corporate culture. This is one of the main sons why leaders like Ken Iverson of Nucor Steel. unless proved otherwise.

too) and who have some non-jo orities which they approach with the same passion that they do their wo are me the grim workaholic or the pompous pretentious "professional.” help them find jobs with my competitor. . who are fun to ha t with. but not themselves.LESSON 17 "Have fun in your command. Corollary: surround yourself with people who take their work seriously." rb Kelleher of Southwest Air and Anita Roddick of The Body Shop would ree: seek people who have some balance in their lives. Take leave when you've earned it: Spend time with your families. those who work hard and play hard. Don't always run at a breakneck pace. who like to laugh (at themselves.

unambiguous hoices that will have an impact on the fate of the organization. prepare to be lonely." arry Truman was right. the buck stops here. but ultimately the ssence of leadership is the willingness to make the tough. Whether you're a CEO or the temporary head of roject team. Even as you create n informal. open. collaborative corporate culture. . You can encourage participative management and bottom-up employee involvement.LESSON 18 "Command is lonely. I've seen oo many non-leaders flinch from this responsibility.

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

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