Customer Review

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Excellent Book on Leadership, April 13, 2008
This review is from: The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell (Paperback)
The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell, by Oren Harari, is a very insightful book about the leadership principles that guide former Secretary of State Colin Powell. There are numerous leadership lessons contained in the book. It is clear that Mr. Powell has an intuitive ability to provide leadership and to make good decisions, even when they are the tough decisions to make. Harari depicts these lessons in an easy to read, and easy to understand fashion. Though much of the book details Mr. Powell's leadership in military or high-level political interactions, the ideas translate into any form of leadership and business.

There are so many examples of Mr. Powell making excellent choices which served to enhance his ability as a leader. I found myself wondering if his style of leadership could be learned, or if it was just a gift. One of the many leadership lessons that Harari imparts is that leadership is - in Powell's case and everyone else's - a learned trait. He states that "leadership skills are learned, and wisdom is the result of many years of hard knocks, false starts, and trial and error." This is a comforting thought for those of us striving to further enhance our leadership skills. There are many methods that Mr. Powell employs to inspire his people to work with him, and to work for him. One of these areas is the importance of optimism. Not blind optimism, but in enthusiasm and high expectations. He believes that if you lower your expectations, or set the bar too low, that is what you will meet, as that is what you are aiming for. If; however, you aim high in an optimistic manner, you are likely to reach those heights. Rather than relying simply on an optimistic approach, Mr. Powell believes in keeping records of achievements and even areas to improve, in this way, the optimism he espouses is proven rather than looked on as mere rhetoric.

One of the chapters that I did not expect dealt with the need to have fun at work, and to stay balanced with your family life. The areas of family, fun, and getting away from the job are often overlooked when it comes to discussions of leadership. There were excellent reminders in this book about the morale raising value of getting away and enjoying your time off. Too often people equate "at the workplace" hours to quality when the same quality might be achieved in a more efficient fashion. There are truly some words of wisdom in this book. I personally enjoyed the discussion about the value of a sense of humor at the workplace. Too often we get caught up in taking ourselves too seriously. The best way to have some fun, as the book states, is to take the job seriously, but don't take yourself too seriously.

Covering a multitude of issues from involving everyone in the "change" process, rewarding your best performers, and getting rid of mediocre performers; Powell also believes in being loyal up, down, and sideways. Harari suggests that by following Powell's leadership style, one can attract the best talent, and the most creative talent. By allowing for innovation and pushing the envelope, a leader can expect to keep things moving forward rather than settling on what has worked in the past. Harari provides insight into the "Powell Way" which requires character, courage, sacrifice, loyalty, and selflessness among other attributes.

This excellent book closes with an appendix entitled: Quotations from Chairman Powell: A Leadership Primer, in which Harari lists a series of quotes regarding leadership and management from Powell, with Harari's "civilian" take on the information. This, in itself, is a very valuable section.

An Excellent book that is worth a 5 star rating.
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