<img src="https://certify.alexametrics.com/atrk.gif?account=mZnsn1QolK1052" style="display:none" height="1" width="1" alt="">

13 Executive Coaching Lessons From Colin Powell

Several years ago General Colin Powell wrote a great book Thirteen Rules of Leadership that gave solid executive coaching insights that are still worth sharing.

Given everything that has been going on in our current election season I thought about reaching back in the archives to read some material written by a real leader. The material is a timeless lesson on leadership that is well worth sharing. The material is a timeless lesson on leadership that is well worth sharing.

Rule 1: It Ain’t As Bad As You Think. It Will Look Better In The Morning.

Time provides perspective. Many terrible events that we have had as professionals do not seem as devastating when we revisit the next day. This is a valuable reminder not to overreact to adverse circumstances.

Rule 2: Get Mad Then Get Over It.

Anger can derail judgment and cloud objective thinking. We are humans and will get mad. The key is to control the anger by letting it happen and then pass. Holding grudges and vendettas will prevent you from rebuilding alliances and moving forward. When we deliver our emotional intelligence training (EQ) we coach individuals and teams to become more self-aware of the triggers that will set them off. This can then lead to avoiding getting overly angry in the first place. 

Rule 3: Avoid Having Your Ego So Close To Your Position That When Your Position Falls, Your Ego Falls With It.

It is vital that we do not define who we are by what we do. We see this lesson played out with some of our outplacement candidates who have severe self-identity challenges when their position is eliminated. It is important to recognize that our roles are means for us to accomplish many things and are not ends in and of themselves.

Rule 4: It Can Be Done.

Leadership is about making things happen. Leaders challenge the status quo, ask the deeper questions, provide inspiration to succeed and build confidence among others that they can do great things. This can also be said for any individual contributor in an organization. The power to influence by believing it can be done is powerful. 

Rule 5: Be Careful Who You Chose.

The people you hire and advisors you chose are vital to your success. None of us can succeed on our own.

Rule 6: Do Not Let Adverse Facts Stand In The Way Of A Good Decision.

Leadership is challenging because in the end you will have people that can strongly agree and vehemently disagree with your decision. This can be lonely and challenging. Leaders have to do their best to seek the best sets of data, arrive at the truth and accept that their decisions, while necessary, will have detractors. 

Rule 7: You Can Not Make Someone Else’s Decisions. You Should Not Let Someone Else Make Yours.

In the end leaders have the ultimate responsibility to make the final decision. They can secure great input and advice but cannot defer the decision to those who report to them. They need to accept accountability.

Rule 8: Check The Small Things.

Having a big picture perspective is great but leaders cannot ignore the importance of the details. This balancing act is one of the biggest challenges professionals face as they advance in their careers. In the end strategy is vital but worthless without execution. 

Rule 9: Share Credit.

Let’s hope that the age of the rock star hire is over and we are now more focused on the servant leader.

Rule 10: Remain Calm and Be Kind.

Leaders need to inspire and build confidence in others. Running down the hall with your hair on fire will not help. Leaders also have to be respectful and kind to everyone. Those around them take their cues from those in leadership roles.

Rule 11: Have A Vision and Be Demanding.

While leaders can be empowering and humbly serve those around them they also need to have a vision and be demanding on fulfilling it. This means holding people accountable, not accepting mediocrity, and expecting more out of everyone.

Rule 12: Do Not Take Counsel Of Your Fears Or Naysayers.

Paralysis by analysis can inhibit us from decisively acting. Leaders have to recognize that counter/negative inputs can often come with agendas. 

Rule 13: Perpetual Optimism Is A Force Multiplier.

Leaders who are positive, who believe that great things can be done, are the ones we are all attracted to and are the most successful. An analysis of past presidential campaigns (let us exclude the 2016 race) has shown that the more positive message almost always prevails. Perpetual optimism will generate exponential results because everyone will have the shared belief that it can be done.