The man who should have been President

Last week I wrote about a speech I made to the World Business Forum in Milan in October 2007.  It was the first of three times that I met Colin Powell and I was fortunate enough to spend time with him one-on-one reminiscing about his experiences and views.  

The first ever African-American Secretary of State, a Four-Star General, a Bronze-Star and a brilliant, pragmatic leader.  He would have been a superb President – but his wife Alma felt it would be too much of a burden for the family to bear.

(Although at 83 years young he’s still in the prime age bracket for Presidential candidates today!!!)

Here are some of the things he told me.

Colin Powell’s Rules of Leadership.

  1. It ain’t as bad as you think.  It will look better in the morning.
  2. Get mad, then get over it.
  3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that, when your position fails, your ego goes with it.
  4. It can be done!
  5. Be careful what you choose, you may get it.
  6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
  7. You can’t make someone else’s choices.  You shouldn’t let someone else make yours.
  8. Check small things.
  9. Share credit.
  10. Remain calm.  Be kind.
  11. Have a vision.  Be demanding.
  12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
  13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.
  14. All work is honourable.  Always do your best because someone is watching.
  15. If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters.
  16. Dig up all the information you can, and then go with your instinct.
  17. Never believe the first thing you hear.

Hail to the Chief.


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Kevin Roberts

Kevin Roberts is founder of Red Rose Consulting; business leader and educator; author and speaker; adviser on marketing, creative thinking and leadership.


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