Joe Orozco
Six fighter jets

Colin Powell’s 13 Rules of Leadership

As we honor the life of Colin Powell, it’s worth pausing to acknowledge the 13 rules for leadership he lived and practiced.

The characteristic I admire most: He did not shy away from the lowest point in his career. He fully acknowledged his error in judgment regarding Iraq.

Yet, despite this error in judgment, he was well loved and respected by powerhouses on both sides of the aisle.

Rather than annotate each rule with my own observation, I’m going to list the rules and allow you to contemplate how you could apply them in your own leadership style.

Rule 1

It Ain’t as Bad as You Think! It Will Look Better in the Morning!

Rule 2

Get Mad Then Get Over It!

Rule 3

Avoid Having Your Ego so Close to your Position that When Your Position Falls, Your Ego Goes With It!

Rule 4

It Can be Done!

Rule 5

Be Careful What You Choose! You May Get It!

Rule 6

Don’t Let Adverse Facts Stand in the Way of a Good Decision.

Rule 7

You Can’t Make Someone Else’s Decisions! You Shouldn’t Let Someone Else Make Yours!

Rule 8

Check Small Things!

Rule 9

Share Credit!

Rule 10

Remain calm! Be kind!

Rule 11

Have a Vision! Be Demanding!

Rule 12

Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers!

Rule 13

Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier!


“Colin Luther Powell was a United States statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He was the 65th United States Secretary of State (2001-2005), serving under President George W. Bush. He was the first African American appointed to that position. He was the first, and so far the only, African American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.” Learn more here.

Colin Powell: April 5, 1937 – October 18, 2021

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My blog is a collection of advice I wish someone had shared with me when I was young and targets subjects like personal finance, careers, and relationships. It publishes Mondays with the occasional bonus article. Sign up to have fresh content delivered straight to your inbox, no SPAM!

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