Global Leadership Summit 2013: General Colin Powell

If you missed this year’s Willow Creek Association Global Leadership Summit, no worries! I started posting all of my notes from each session earlier this morning and will continue all week. So check back often to get all of the great content you missed from some incredible leaders and communicators. Like this session from General Colin Powell. You can also pick up his new book “It Worked for Me, in Life and Leadership.”

  • Leadership = Getting more out of people than the science of management says you can.
  • Leaders inspire people to reach beyond themselves.
  • Leaders aren’t the people getting the work done. It’s followers getting the real work done. Leadership efforts need to be focused on the followers to help them get the right things done.
  • Giving them a sense of purpose (what are we doing this work for?).
  • Trust is connected to empowerment. You can’t empower people if you can’t trust them. If you can trust them you can risk. Give them a zone of operation…it gives them a sense of power and purposefulness. It also means the leader needs to act in a trustworthy manner.
  • Trust it the glue and holds an organization together and the lubricant that keeps it moving forward.
  • Great leaders constantly refresh and repeat simple themes.
  • If you want to be a great leader, take care of your troops.
    • Give them a sense of purpose
    • Remember that execution is the most important part of leadership
    • Failure is an option every time
  • Soldiers are not looking for sympathy, they don’t want people to say they’re sorry, they want to tell their story and know their service matter, they want to be recognized.
  • Great leader always collide with great timing (“luck” favors the prepared).
  • It’ll look different in the morning: it may not, a day may go bad, but it’s an attitude, it’s an aspiration, it’s going to be better because we’re going to make it better.
  • Perpetual optimism is force multiplier: how can I make my force more effective? Supplies, numbers, etc. No matter how bad things are we’re going to fix it. When you do have a good day don’t get too wound up about it. When you have a bad day, don’t get too down about it. People look to leaders to solve problems. People don’t respond to orders.
  • Get mad, but then get over it: mad is a bad attitude. Everyone get’s mad. When you act when you’re mad you’re not at your best. If you stay mad the whole organization is contaminated. People won’t come to you as the leader etc.
  • How do you know when to fire somebody and when to give them a second chance? When you can’t get a subordinate to work on your purposes it’s time for them to go. The first ones to know about it is the “others” they know it before everyone else. And they’re waiting for the leader to do something about it. Leaders solve problems. And if you don’t solve this kind of problem you lose the trust of your subordinates. And people will stop bringing you problems…when they stop bringing you problems they think you can’t solve them or that you don’t care (that’s even worse).
  • See an aspiring leader – what’s a red flag? Ego
  • Tell someone they’re not cut out to be a leader: promote people on their potential not their performance…you have to have an instinct of their potential. Past performance is an indicator not a guarantee.
  • Tell me Early: problem solving is what leaders do…but tell me about the problem early. Don’t try to work on it before you tell me about it…tell me early…no surprises. But you’ve got to create the environment where people will come in and tell you.
  • You have to challenge people or they’ll just sit there and watch you.
  • Don’t expect your boss to solve your problems. They have their own problems to solve.

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