Improve your Leadership: Colin Powell’s 13 Rules for Leaders

We thought Veteran’s Day would be an appropriate time to revisit Colin Powell’s 13 Rules for Leaders. He offers some excellent advice for leaders who are dealing with uncertainty and crisis.

Powell was a professional soldier for 35 years, holding a variety of command and staff positions and rising to the rank of general. He served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1989 to 1993 and oversaw US Military responses to 28 crises, earning the nickname, “the reluctant warrior.” Powell was named the Secretary of State by President-elect George W. Bush in 2001 and served in that role for 4 years.

Colin Powell passed away on October 18, 2021, at the age of 84. He died from complications of COVID-19 at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center while undergoing cancer treatment. A member of the Personal Kaizen community recently shared these rules with our team. You can read more about his life and leadership in his book, It Worked for Me.

Colin Powell's 13 Rules for Leaders

Colin Powell’s 13 Rules for Leaders

Rule No. 1: It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.

Rule No. 2: Get mad, and then get over it.

Rule No. 3: Don’t become so attached to an argument that if it fails, your ego goes with it.

Rule No. 4: It can be done.

Rule No. 5: Be careful what you choose. You may get it.

Rule No. 6: Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.

Rule No. 7: You can’t make someone else’s decisions. (And don’t let others make yours.)

Rule No. 8: Check small things.

Rule No. 9: Share credit.

Rule No. 10: Remain calm and be kind.

Rule No. 11: Have a vision.

Rule No. 12: Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.

Rule No. 13: Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

We hope you enjoyed these tips from the well-respected Colin Powell. Our posts over the past few weeks have covered a challenging area for many of the leaders we work with: leading in uncertainty as businesses have had to adapt due to the COVID-19 pandemic. How we work, where we work, how we meet, and how we measure results have all have been tested in the past several years. We shared the story of a leader who grew during this period, shared tips for leading a remote workforce, and hacks to be more effective working from a home office.

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