Lessons on Leadership!

February is Black History Month. And the Ignite Inspire Committee would like to take time to recognize significant men and women of color that have made significant impact to not just their race, but to also America in general.

This post focuses on General Colin Powell. General Powell was secretary of state under the most recent Bush Administration, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs under George H.W. Bush’s Administration, a National Security Advisor under President Ronald Regan, and a four Star General in the US Army.

After many years of service to his beloved country, General Powell retired from the public eye. He still holds speaking engagements in which he encourages tomorrow’s decision makers and current young professionals to make a positive impact on society.

Most recently I came across a list of some of his many “words of wisdom”. I thought I’d share them with you as they speak to such a broad demographics of young, old, male and female. As a young professional organization, I think that some of what General Powell touches speaks directly to us. Many of us seek to progress in our profession and someday be considered a manager or leader, someone people look up to for information, and guidance.


Being responsible sometimes, means pissing people off.

Don’t be buffaloed by experts and elites. Experts often possess more data than judgment. Elites can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.

Don’t be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard.

Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted, the leader must be doubly vigilant.

You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.

Keep looking below surface appearances. Don’t shrink from doing so (just) because you might not like what you find.

Organization doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish anything, either. Theories of management don’t much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.

Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it.

Fit no stereotypes. Don’t chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission.

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.
Have fun in your command. Don’t always run at a breakneck pace. Take leave when you’ve earned it: Spend time with your families.
Corollary: surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.

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

-Darold Ingram


~ by daroldingram on February 16, 2011.

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