Follow These Rules in Order to Raise Your Personal Leadership Lid

Leadership training and development in our military takes place on two fronts. First, officers identify, build, and utilize the skills that will allow individuals and teams to effectively and efficiently achieve their goal. Second, officers focus on training methods and techniques that will allow those same individuals and teams to practice effective combat and leadership skills in the fields.

In this issue, we will have a chance to hear from leaders in the Army, Navy, and Air Force as they discuss various aspects of leadership training and development that have served them well during their careers.

The same types of leadership training and development can also serve leaders in your organization – beginning with you.

THE QUICK SUMMARY – It Worked for Me by Colin Powell

Colin Powell, one of America’s most admired public figures, reveals the principles that have shaped his life and career in this inspiring and engrossing memoir.

A beautiful companion to his previous memoir, the #1 New York Times bestseller My American Journey, Powell’s It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership is a trove of wisdom for anyone hoping to achieve their goals and turn their dreams into reality.

A message of strength and endurance from a man who has dedicated his life to public service, It Worked for Me is a book with the power to show readers everywhere how to achieve a more fulfilling life and career.


Short, pithy sayings have played an important role in the life and legendary career of Army four-star general and former Secretary of State Colin Powell. And the heart of these are his “Thirteen Rules.”

Stories don’t just make pleasant reading.

They speak to a journey of learning about life and leadership.

  1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning. This rule reflects an attitude and not a prediction. A good night’s rest and the passage of just eight hours will usually reduce the infection.

  2. Get mad, and then get over it. Everyone gets mad; it is a natural and healthy emotion. Staying mad isn’t useful.

  3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it. Accept that your position is faulty, not your ego. Loyalty is disagreeing strongly, and loyalty is executing faithfully.

  4. It can be done. This is more about attitude than reality. Maybe it can’t be done, but always start out believing you can get it done until facts and analysis pile up against it.

  5. Be careful what you chose: you may get it. Don’t rush into things. Usually there is time to examine the choices, turn them over, and think through the consequences. Some bad choices can be corrected; others you will have to live with.

  6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.  Superior leadership is often a matter of superb instinct. When faced with a tough decision, use the time available to gather information that will inform your instinct. Often, factual analysis alone will indicate the right choice. More often, your judgment will be needed to select from the best course of action.

  7. You shouldn’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours. Ultimate responsibility for a team or an organization falls on the leader, but leaders need to make sure the choices they make are theirs and they are not responding to the pressure and desire of others.

  8. Check small things. Success ultimately rests on small things, lots of small things. Leaders have to have a feel for small things – a feel for what is going on in the depths of an organization where small things reside. The followers live in a world of small things. Leaders must find ways, formal and informal, to get visibility into that world.

  9. Share credit. When something goes well, make sure you share credit down and around the whole organization. It is the way you appeal to the dreams, aspirations, anxieties, and fears of your followers. They want to be the best they can be; a good leader lets them know when they are.

  10. Remain calm. Be kind. Calmness protects order, ensures that we consider all the possibilities, restores order when it breaks down, and keeps people fro shouting over each other. Kindness, too, reassures followers and holds their confidence.

  11. Have a vision. Be demanding. Followers need to know where their leaders are taking them and for what purpose. 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.

  12. Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers. We can learn to be aware when fear grips us, and can train to operate through and in spite of or fear. In the same way, naysayers may be right in their negativity, and reality may be on their side. Listen to everyone you need to, and go with your fearless instinct.

  13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier. If you believe and have prepared your followers, the followers will believe.

Colin Powell, It Worked for Me


Use Colin Powell’s “Thirteen Rules” as a 90-day team learning exercise as follows.

In the room used for your team meetings, put up 13 chart tablets, and on each, write one of the rules listed above.

Each week challenge your team to drop by and write examples, illustrations, and brief notes about something that occurred to or with them in the past week that reflects the rule.

In the next team meeting, briefly review that sheet, and discuss how the team can learn from it. Then, point out the next week’s rule and encourage the team to repeat the process.

Follow these actions for an entire quarter, until you have been through all 13 rules.


Part of a weekly series on 27gen, entitled Wednesday Weekly Reader

Regular daily reading of books is an important part of my life. It even extends to my vocation, where as Vision Room Curator for Auxano I am responsible for publishing SUMS Remix, a biweekly book “excerpt” for church leaders. Each Wednesday on 27gen I will be taking a look back at previous issues of SUMS Remix and publishing an excerpt.

>>Purchase SUMS Remix here<<

>> Purchase prior issues of SUMS Remix here<<


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