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The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell Hardcover – January 25, 2002

4.4 out of 5 stars 51 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Even before the events of last fall, Powell was well regarded by the military and civilians around the world. Now, as secretary of state during the war against terrorism, Powell's intelligence and skills as manager, negotiator and leader are even more visible. Harari, a management professor and consultant, met Powell several years ago, but wrote this book without his cooperation. The author has used Powell's own words, from his autobiography and presentations, to create a primer of Powell's leadership secrets. The book reads much like an introductory textbook, explaining key phrases, quotes, anecdotes and principles. Powell's style is somewhat unusual for a military leader. He believes in listening, not just to superiors, but to the people who serve under him; he pushes people to ask hard questions and to approach problems in creative ways; he is solution-oriented and wants answers to problems to be original, not simply tried-and-true methods. While a book by Powell himself on his leadership style would obviously have great appeal, Harari has done an admirable job of distilling the essence of Powell's leadership style. The chapter summaries ("Powell's Principles") are especially clear (e.g., "Hire on talent and values, rather than resumes"; "Don't clock hours for hours' sake"). This is a solid if basic book about leadership that should interest a wide range of readers, especially less experienced managers. Agent, Lynn Johnston.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Prior to September 11, Colin Powell was considered "odd man out" in the Bush administration and had even begun to receive criticism in certain media outlets. After the attacks, Powell stepped up and, with his calm demeanor, played a key leadership role as he has done on many previous occasions. Several biographies have been written about Powell, but this book centers on his personal leadership philosophy and is organized into 17 chapters of "leadership secrets," each one summarized into three or four of "Powell's Principles." Some of his principles are surprising, considering his conservative inclination: he likes to challenge authority and promote a clash of ideas, and he maintains an open-door policy because he believes that the higher one goes up the hierarchy, the more important it is to stay in touch with real people and real data. A key Powell trait is flexibility in action, as he does not believe in formulaic solutions but lets the situation dictate the strategy. He is, above all, a people person and seeks out those with optimism and drive. This is a "battle-tested" leadership book, and although the author has shown how to apply these principles in the corporate venue, you don't have to be a CEO to benefit from the words and wisdom of Colin Powell. David Siegfried
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 278 pages
  • Publisher: McGraw-Hill; 1 edition (January 25, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0071388591
  • ISBN-13: 978-0071388597
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 1.1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (51 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #668,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
In "Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell," Oren Harari distills and expounds upon the leadership style of one of the most well respected leaders of our time. It is not a biography about or tribute to Powell, neither is it a book written by Powell. Rather, Harari has drawn from a wide range of sources such as personal communication with Powell, magazine articles, books, speeches, etc. The result is a powerfully motivating and thought-provoking book.
"Leadership Secrets" has 16 chapters divided into 3 main sections:
Section 1-Powell as Provocateur-jumps right in with "Know When to Piss People Off." The other chapters in include "Promote a Clash of Ideas," "The Ego Trap," "Don't Go Looking for No," "The Chief Dis-organizer," and, "When to Challenge the Pros."
Section 2-Powell on Strategy and Character-is milder but just as thought provoking with, "Close With the Enemy," "People Over Plans," "Vigilance in Detail," "Situation Dictates Strategy," "Powell's Rules for Picking People," and, "Trust Those in the Trenches."
Section 3-The Powell Character-dwells on some of the less concrete aspects of leadership with "The Powell Way," "Optimism Is a Force Multiplier," "Take Leave when You've Earned It," and, "Prepare for Loneliness."
The book moves along at a good pace. Harari does a nice job of presenting concepts without feeling the need to spell things out in excruciating detail. Each chapter is self-contained making the book easy to pick up and read in spurts. Finally, each chapter ends with a nice summary of the main concepts.
"Leadership Secrets" is certainly on the upper end of the bell curve of business and leadership books. I give it an unequivocal endorsement.
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Format: Hardcover
Perhaps no political leader in the United States is more widely respected than Colin Powell, decorated soldier, architect of the 1991 U.S. victory over Iraq, former presidential contender and current Secretary of State. Using anecdotes and quotations from Powell's life, management professor Oren Harari distills leadership philosophies and methods that can be applied to business. The book is written in a short, pithy style, reflecting Powell's own direct approach. While the principles Harari uncovers are not innovative, they are comprehensive and practical. Charged with maintaining an international coalition in the ongoing war on terrorism, Powell has been thrust into one of the world's most important leadership roles. For this reason alone, we from getAbstract recommend Harari's book for its insight into the man's leadership philosophies, which have had a profound influence on U.S. military and government organizations.
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Format: Hardcover
I've never been so inspired by an Amazon purchase that I felt compelled to write a review, but "Secrets" is my watershed moment.
As part of my never ending quest to become the best Director of Sales / Manager / Leader possible, I have read countless books paralleling military structure and business structure. For the most part, I digest the material and attempt to adapt it to my personal situation, relationships with my employees, and relationships with my customers. Most often, any direct quote or application is seemingly too obvious an adaption from some military procedure or code. "Secrets", however, was different.
Perhaps because it was written miuns direct contact with Colin Powell (can this *really* be true) that we get the perspective of Harari and his researchers on the relevancy, and not a direct military viewpoint. Perhaps. I can't imagine Harari enlisted the help of an Army platoon to write this book, but probably a young, talented MBA student with little real perspective on military life.
Either way, I earmarked and bookmarked numerous ideas that I'll apply to my work environment and I highly recommend this book to managers who want to be true leaders.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent leadership book for military members and corporate managers. If you were in any way confused about how to lead units, build confidence in organizations or improve yourself.....get this book! I can't put it down. I'm pouring over it in preparation for my next military assignment. I originally purchased the book to learn about the "Powell Way", but I quickly realized it could also be "my way" as well. I'm a LCDR in the U.S. Navy and also a freshly minted MBA--what a great book to prepare me for the upcoming challenges in my career.
The book is packed full of cogent examples of problems and how Secretary / General Powell executed his plan to quickly resolve them. I wish, however, the book contained more failures or unsuccessful exploits and the lessons Powell learned. I believe that kind of insight is also just as valuable in leadership....how to deal with failure.
Overall, I highly recommend this book be made required reading for every MBA, officer candidate, cadet and midshipman--Simply put, this is good stuff.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Every year I assigned this book as a book report. Every student chose it. However, only one could read it. So this year I had everyone read it for my Leadership class. Best decision I made.

Harari describes General Powell's leadership principles in a respectful and simple manner. One learns to always listen to everyone. Walk the same route every day so people know you will. That way they will come up to General Powell and express their ideas. General Powell had a special phone line for ideas.

My students were constantly getting inspired by this book. They were learning by General Powell's example.

An excellent book and a must read!!!
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