In Humble and Joyous Recognition of a Role Model of Great Leadership – Colin Powell

Colin Powell is an extraordinary man who served with love. For him, both in his professional and personal life, it was all about people. His was a journey of success by surpassing. It is evidenced in his commitment to his life’s purpose and meaning, his exceptional values-based leadership which found its roots in people, his courage, passion, unconditional caring and serving of others. His words, below, capture his legacy of leadership and selfless giving.

Books on leadership abound. Powell’s words, below, however, beautifully and succinctly capture its essence. I humbly encourage you to take five minutes to read his thoughts, ones that may open your eyes and take you to new levels of leadership excellence.

1. “Leadership is all about people. It is not about organizations. It is not about plans. It is not about strategies. It is all about people-motivating people to get the job done. You have to be people-centered.”
2. “Good leaders set vision, missions, and goals. Great leaders inspire every follower at every level to internalize their purpose, and to understand that their purpose goes far beyond the mere details of their job. When everyone is united in purpose, a positive purpose that serves not only the organization but also, hopefully, the world beyond it, you have a winning team.”
3. “Leadership is solving problems. The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them.”
4. “Great leaders are always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everyone can understand.”
5. “There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure. A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.”
6. “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters.”
7. “Every organization needs to be introspective, transparent, and honest with itself. This only works if everyone is unified on the goals and purposes of the organization and there is trust within the team. High-performing, successful organizations build cultures of introspection and trust and never lose sight of their purpose.”
8. “The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people.”
9. “Never receive counsel from unproductive people. Never discuss your problems with someone incapable of contributing to the solution, because those who never succeed themselves are always first to tell you how. Not everyone has a right to speak into your life. You are certain to get the worst of the bargain when you exchange ideas with the wrong person. Don’t follow anyone who’s not going anywhere.”
10. “The most important thing I learned is that soldiers watch what their leaders do. You can give them classes and lecture them forever, but it is your personal example they will follow.”
11. “Never get so close to your position that when the position goes, your ego goes with it.”
12. “A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination, and hard work.”
13. “Surround yourself with people who take their work seriously, but not themselves, those who work hard and play hard.”
14. “You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.”
15. “Dig up all the information you can, then go with your instincts.”
16. “Bad news isn’t wine. It doesn’t improve with age.”
17. “Give me the right people and I don’t much care what organization you give me. Good things will happen. Give me the wrong people and it doesn’t matter what you do with the organization. Bad things will happen.”
18. “There is no end to the good you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”
19. “Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”
20. “Always be looking for that which you do well and that which you love doing, and when you find those two things together — man, you got it.”
21. “Respect for leaders by followers can’t be mandated; it must be earned. It has to be given to leaders by their followers.”
22. “Effective leaders are made, not born. They learn from trial and error, and from experience.”
23. “All children need a laptop. Not a computer, but a human laptop. Moms, Dads, Grannies and Grandpas, Aunts, Uncles – someone to hold them, read to them, teach them. Loved ones who will embrace them and pass on the experience, rituals, and knowledge of a hundred previous generations. Loved ones who will pass to the next generation their expectations of them, their hopes, and their dreams.”
24. “Always show more kindness than seems necessary, because the person receiving it needs it more than you will ever know.”
25. “Trust is the glue that holds people together and is the lubricant that keeps an organization moving forward.”
26. “Look for intelligence and judgement and most critically, a capacity to anticipate, to see around corners. Also look for loyalty, integrity, a high energy drive, a balanced ego and the drive to get things done.”
27. “Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.”
28. “Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity.”
29. “When we are debating an issue, loyalty means giving me your honest opinion, whether you think I’ll like it or not. Disagreement, at this stage, stimulates me. But once a decision has been made, the debate ends. From that point on, loyalty means executing the decision as if it were your own.”
30. “In prosperity our friends know us. In adversity we know our friends.”
31. “Treat people kindly. When you are kind to somebody and I don’t mean necessarily buddy-buddy, just show kindness and consideration. Show that people are worthy and you respect them and you are glad they’re with you.”
32. “Faults are yours to fix, not to curse.”
33. “The freedom to be your best means nothing unless you are willing to do your best.”
34. “Always do your best. Somebody is watching you.”
35. “I think whether you’re having setbacks or not, the role of a leader is to always display a winning attitude.”
36. “Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds.”
37. “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.”
38. “None of us can change our yesterdays but all of us can change our tomorrows.”
39. “The less you associate with some people, the more your life will improve. Any time you tolerate mediocrity in others, it increases your mediocrity. An important attribute in successful people is their impatience with negative thinking and negative acting people.”

Beyond these words is the man who lived their reality at every moment of his life’s journey. His life is a treasure he left for us in all its wisdom, inspiration and motivation of which he is the role model. Let us continue to live the gift of his learnings. May the legacy of his life and words be an inspiration to us and future generations. May we be as he is, role models of leadership excellence, servant leadership, selfless-giving and caring.

Thank you, Colin Powell, for being a magnificent leadership role model… a joyous legacy that continues in the lives of those whom you touched and served, and which will be passed on by them to others and to the generations to come.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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