Friday, December 30, 2011

Colin Powell's Leadership Lessons - 13

Powell's Rules for Picking People: Look for intelligence and judgement, and most critically, a capacity to anticipate, to see around corners. Also look for loyalty, integrity, a high energy drive, a balanced ego and the drive to get things done.

When I read this, I honestly thought that General Powell was looking for the impossible. How many people do you know that meet this description? I don't know how often you can find these attributes in the same person; but when you do, it does seem like a no-brainer to higher him or her. As Gen. Powell mentions, it isn't difficult to train a novice in the fundamentals, provided they meet the above criteria. 

Honestly, the concept isn't new. In Good to Great by James Collins, he stated that the first thing to do is get the "right people on the bus, " then you decide "where they sit." Find the right people, who have the qualities described above, then find the place for them to work. I would love to have more people with these attributes, and I think anyone who is a leader would say the same. They can learn the skills.

So how do you find them? Gen. Powell mentions some things to avoid, but how do you find the right people? You can rely on references for most of this, job history will tell you a little bit more about the loyalty. Lastly, you need to trust your own judgement. A lot of people are afraid that they don't have the people skills to make the call. Fortunately, or unfortunately, these skills get better with practice, which means that a couple of good or bad experiences will teach you a lot about people judgement, and possibly what questions to ask to determine if the person is someone you want on your team. 

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