Friday, January 6, 2012

Colin Powell's Leadership Lessons - 14

Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate, and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.

Too often, Dilbert has it about right, managers spend a lot of their time finding complex, buzz-word laden terminology to explain something simple. The manager thinks it makes them look smart, but in many cases, the person only looks more ignorant and out of touch. In fact, every year there is a list of the most annoying business slang. A list for this year can be found here

Instead, leaders tend to stick to the KISS principle (explained in the above slide). I would take it a step further as well. Leaders can cut through the debate, argument, etc., but they also cut through the "blame game." Leaders know that the real deal is the solution, not who caused the problem. Usually, after the problem is solved, who or what caused the problem can be identified and fixed when the problem isn't pressing anymore. 

Never underestimate the power of a simply stated plan with a clarity that others can follow. So often, people are willing to move in the same direction, so long as they know the direction that everybody is heading in. That clarity of purpose and credibility of leadership are instrumental in getting people on the same page. 
One thing not mentioned in the slide, but I feel should be brought up, is that you need to train your people to continue moving in the same direction without you. Momentum (mentioned in a previous post, here) is a powerful thing. You want the team to continue to guide the snowball in your absence, rather than letting it run rampant, or worse, trying to push it back up the hill it just went down.

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