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The Powell Principles

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The Powell Principles

24 Lessons From Colin Powell, Battle-Proven Leader


15 min read
10 take-aways
Text available

What's inside?

How do you inspire others to follow you? Ask four-star general Colin Powell. Get 24 maxims for winning business battles.

Editorial Rating



  • Applicable


Retired four-star general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell is considered one of the most respected leaders in the U.S. Author Oren Harari’s short book distills Powell’s insights about leadership. As a formidable leader who has managed battles, bureaucracies and humanitarian missions, Powell has firm ideas about how a good leader behaves. Refreshingly, some of his principles are modestly anti-authoritarian. However, Harari does not develop Powell’s background or explain how he implemented these principles during his long, varied career. Like the rules promulgated in similar books on leadership, many of these "lessons" seem arbitrary and redundant. Then again, it is interesting and useful to see how a leader of Powell’s caliber thinks. Truncated as it may be, recommends this short, concise collection to aspiring leaders. It is just about enough reading material for a short plane ride, but it provides a fair share of inspiration.


Becoming Victorious

The child of immigrants, Bronx, N.Y. native Colin Powell became a four-star general in the U.S. Army and worked under four U.S. presidents. His service culminated in his tenure as Secretary of State. Powell has commanded groups small and large under circumstances ranging from active combat to budget-crunching peacetime. He has worked on government policy, defense strategy, diplomatic missions and humanitarian relief, accomplishing political, governmental, civic and military objectives. As a result of his experience motivating and leading people, Powell developed 24 leadership principles you can apply to your business.

  1. "Promote a clash of ideas" - Powerful ideas can sustain or deplete entire empires. Be aware of your top talent’s best ideas. To hear everyone’s great ideas, get people involved. Give them the responsibility of presenting and promoting their concepts. To be meaningful, their ideas must be applicable to solving actual problems. This idea-generating process is short circuited when leaders restrict people to their departments and block them from sharing ideas. "Noisy" or creative systems encourage the presentation of new...

About the Author

Oren Harari, Ph.D., teaches in the M.B.A. programs at the University of San Francisco. He is an international consultant in transformational leadership and competitive advantage.

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