13 leadership principles I learned from General Colin Powell

Man Standing on Cliff Photography

Why do we care about the meaning of leadership? Leadership scholars and researchers have provided lots of definitions of leadership, but here are 13 leadership principles  l learned from General Collin Powell:

  1. Foster a “noisy system.” A noisy system is a system where everyone is included in a decision making processes. Talents are nurtured.
  2. Challenge the prevailing wisdom. Don’t settle for the traditional ways of doing business. Don’t settle for the business as usual environment. It is important to challenge the traditional ways of doing business. A new problem requires a new way to solve it. If do the same thing for years, and it has not be working, it is time to change. Change!
  3. Guard against competitive myopia.“Change your model before someone else changes it for you.”
  4. Look past today, and monitor the environment for tomorrow. It does matter what you do, if you want to progress, you have to be in the moment. Don’t get stuck in the past. Past is gone, today is now, and tomorrow is future. Which one will you focus on? I wrote this line in one of my articles.
  5. Don’t punish for failure. Without failure, there is no success. As Summer Redstone said,  “Success is not built on success. It is built on failure. It is built on frustration. Sometimes, it is built on catastrophe.” Any company that punishes for failure, is not a place to be. Look for another job!
  6. Don’t invest in organizations that punish risk takers. I will add: Don’t work for any organization that punish risk takers. Why? You will never grow-professionally. According to Margaret Fuller, an American journalist, “Very early, I knew that the only object in life was to grow.” This quote is so true because, “If you are not growing, you are dying.”
  7. Be a dis-organizer. Don’t settle for sameness. It is cancerous. It is dangerous! Change the way you have been doing things, if they are not working-even if they are working. Test your existing strategies if they still meet the test of today.
  8. Dig, dig, and dig some more. Dig for the real truth, not half truth. Don’t take things at face value. Oscar Wilde, an Irish poet, said,  “The truth is rarely pure and never simple.” Isaac Newton said, “Truth is ever to be found in simplicity, and not in the multiplicity and confusion of things.”
  9. Keep it simple. Henry David Thoreau said, “Simplify, simplify, and you will begin to make far greater headway.” Whatever it is that you do, make it simple. Make your life simple; make your job simple by removing the things that are dragging you behind.
  10. Be a servant leader. I don’t know if we still have one. If we do, please email me! A servant leader work for his people. A servant leader listen to his people. A servant leader is persuasive, not manipulative. A servant leader show empathy toward his or her people.
  11. Seek value alignment. This is critically important when hiring a new candidate to join your company. Hire somebody that represent your company’s values. With values, nothing matters. Thomas Aquinas, Italian Priest, said, “The things that we love tell us who we are.”
  12. Curiosity is key. Curiosity is the art of questioning the status quo. Aristotle said, “Curiosity is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.”
  13. Strive for balance. No matter how busy we think we are, let’s not forget our health, our families. They are the pillars behind our success. Hippocrates, a Greek physician, said that, “If we could give every individual the right amount of nourishment and exercise, not too little and not too much, we would have found the safest way to health.” Strive for balance!

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