Colin Powell Leadership Tips

I recently watched a video clip of Colin Powell speaking on leadership:

He’s still got it.

Here is his recipe for good leadership:

(1)  Have a purpose.  He likes the word purpose instead of mission, or another term, because I think for him it conveys more a sense of an inspiring future.  To be clear about the purpose of your organization, and to communicate that to everyone–it sounds so simple!  Yet so few leaders and organizations truly do this well.

(2)  Take care of the troops.  Equip the people you lead so they can succeed.  Get them training, skills, the things they need to do their jobs.  Never look away from their needs.

(3)  Commend people when they do good things.  He conveyed this by pretending to put his arm around an imaginary employee next to him, saying, “I’m so proud you are part of the team!”

(4)  Give people feedback and direction if they are not doing something well.  Everyone in the organization is waiting for you to take action if there is a problem.  They are watching you.  You can’t sit by and allow a problem to continue and fester.  Fire people if they need to be fired.  Deal with problems.  Don’t turn away from them.

(5)  It’s all about human connection, and conveying to people who follow you that you believe in them, that you will support them, and that we’re all in this together.

One of my favorite lines:  “The role of a leader is to put people–human beings–in the best possible environment to achieve the purpose of the organization you are a part of.”

Those things, in a nutshell, are his recipe for leadership.  If everyone were to just practice those things, and do them well, we’d have higher-performing organizations around the world!