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Colin Powell, former secretary of state, national security advisor and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is no stranger to leadership.  Now working on educational, energy and other projects at home and abroad, he shared his advice on leadership at a Phoenix symposium of the American Wind Energy Association.


Gen. Powell said that his idea of what it is to be a leader evolved as he moved through various positions in public service.  Among his key points:

  • Leaders exist to give followers what they need to get their job done.  It is the followers who go into battle and accomplish the tasks assigned.
  • The most important part of leadership is instilling trust in those you command.  If you have their trust, they will follow you anywhere.  "Every human endeavor has leaders and followers, and your job as a leader is to inspire," he said.
  • Leadership begins with goals.  When the followers know what the goals are, everyone understands the importance of their own role for the common purpose.
  • People want to know that you are serving a greater purpose than just your own.  "Increasingly, our people want to see leaders who are respected, leaders who are selfless," Powell said.
  • Express appreciation.  Make sure that those under your command understand that you appreciate what they are doing, Powell said.  While serving as secretary of state, he said, he let people know he appreciated their work through personal visits and thank-you cards.
  • Solve problems.  A leader also needs to recognize when someone is not performing well.  It is a leader's job to identify the source of the problem, and fix it.  "Leadership is problem-solving and you are expected as leaders to know what's going on throughout your organization," he said.


Article from The Institute for Independent Business' Business Alert! by SmartBrief’s
Bryan McBournie.





Business Owners are making a grave mistake by prioritizing short-term concerns over more fundamental operational issues.


Business owners are putting their ventures at risk by failing to adopt long-term managerial strategies, according to new CMI research.


The study revealed a discrepancy between the areas that were identified as potential weaknesses and the strategies being implemented to overcome these.  Nearly two-thirds (60%) said skills and talent management was the key challenge facing employers, but only 32% put "developing talent" down as a significant issue.


Similarly, with a failure rate of 74% for IT projects, the number of respondents who thought that keeping abreast of technological change was a priority was just 24% and only 10% said effective use of IT and communications was a big challenge.


Other business priorities were protecting the company reputation (38%) and managing the impact of regulation, cited by 35%.


The findings also revealed a worrying level of over-confidence in some compoanies, with only 38% claiming managing risks was important in the current climate.


"Questions need to be asked about how organizations will be able to manage in the future if they fail to address key operational issues," said Jo Causon, director, marketing and corporate affairs at the CMI.


"Rather than simply focusing on 'what should be done today,' the inability to plan properly might lead to questions of a more critical nature:  'what opportunities have I missed' or worse, 'how did the organization not see that coming.'"


The research did find, however, that organizations see themselves as up to speed when it comes to monitoring the competition (with 70% answering positively) and 65% said they were effective in identifying changes in society that could impact on the business.


"In the current economic environment the need for high levels of efficiency are all too apparent, so it is encouraging to see some positive signs," said Causden.


"However, it is not an excuse to become too comfortable with the situation, as success depends on the 'principle of preparation':  namely the ability to juggle tasks, manage change and meet market expectations."

-- IIB Business Alert

James F. (Jim) Smith Managing Principal

Smith Business Advisors, LLC

Mail: 151 N. Nob Hill Road, #117

Plantation, FL 33324

(Greater Fort Lauderdale Area)

Phone:  954.383.5602


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James F. Smith is an accredited Associate of the Institute for Independent Business.

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