For years I kept General Colin Powell’s “Rules” on a worn, type-written sheet of paper somewhere on my desk. His Rules had been published in a news magazine article, and I thought they were fabulous, so I typed them up and added a few of my own to the bottom. Over the years, I developed my own “Rules” that gradually replaced “Colin Powell’s Rules” even though that worn piece of paper still adorns my desk.
I’ve found these rules to be very useful to me, and I’ve regretted it every time I’ve violated them. The eleven rules listed below are my guidelines for relating to other people and to my work and reminders about leading my organization. In the coming weeks, I’ll take each in turn and discuss it. In the mean time….here they are!
- Have a direction and know what it is. Go there.
- Don’t spook the herd. Emotional demonstrations are always counter-productive and stifle initiative.
- Don’t let “perfect” be the enemy of “good.”
- “Can’t” never gets anything done. Keep it out of your vocabulary.
- The first report is usually wrong. Be patient and ask questions.
- Asking the right questions is usually better than knowing the right answers.
- The other team is not the enemy. The enemy is the enemy; don’t confuse the two.
- Be curious. Ask “Why?” a lot. Keep asking until you understand.
- Walk the horses. No one can go full throttle all the time.
- Drink your water, eat your lunch, and make new friends.
- Check your “moral azimuth”…if you’re doing something that you wouldn’t want posted on the Internet, it’s probably illegal, immoral, or fattening.