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A Leadership Briefing by General (Ret.) Collin Powell Report

A leadership briefing by General (Ret.) Collin Powell, Secretary of State titled “Colin Powell Leadership Primer” gives eighteen lessons that are of essence in an organizational leadership. The first lesson that is important is lesson 1: “Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off” (Harari, 2007, para.1).

This lesson is important in the context of organizational leadership because for one to be an effective leader, he or she must take care of the welfare of his or her followers. However, since it is difficult to please everybody, some individuals will not like the actions and decisions taken by the leader.

If a leader is trying his or her best to please everybody, he or she will avoid making tough decisions that can be of importance in fulfilling the goals of the company (Marturano & Gosling, 2007). For example, in a situation in which an employee, who has worked for a company for several years, does not want to attend the continuous training programs that the company offers.

The manager may think that he can make the worker get upset because he has been working faithfully for the company for a long time. However, because of the changing trends in today’s world, the manager must confront the worker to ensure that he attends the trainings.

Next, lesson 8: “Organization doesn’t really accomplish anything. Plans don’t accomplish anything, either. Theories of management don’t much matter. Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. Only by attracting the best people will you accomplish great deeds,” is important in an organization (Harari, 2007, para. 8).

This lesson is of essence because employees are the best assets that an organization can have and they should be treated with respect, not just like moneymaking machines. For an organization to succeed in fulfilling its objectives, it ought to create a favorable working environment of its employees where they are also motivated to accomplish tasks.

This lesson can be implemented in motivating employees (Lauby, 2005). For example, since workers most of the times emulate their bosses, a leader of an organization should endeavor to stay positive, enthusiastic, and excited about himself or herself. Therefore, the workers are able to take this cue, which makes the place of work to be free from unnecessary tension.

Lastly, lesson 10: “Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it” is also crucial in the context of organizational leadership (Harari, 2007, para. 10). In most cases, when an organization wants to effect some changes, some people would resist the change because “they have let their ego to get so close to their positions.”

This is the reason for the weakening of most organizations. However, effective managers understand that the current work environment is volatile and one should be ready to implement any new productive idea that can assist an organization in fulfilling its objectives (Palmisano, 2008).

Managers should be ready to confront the old ways of doing things and create an environment in which the employees can continually reinvent themselves by assuming new exciting roles.

For example, in a situation in which a company has merged with another so as to increase their market share and a saleslady in one of the companies considers this as not part of her work description. However, by applying this lesson, the saleslady can reinvent her role so as to assume comfortably the increase in responsibilities.

Reference List

Harari, O. (2007). A Leadership Primer from General (Ret.) Colin Powell, Secretary of State. SSS Consulting, Inc. Retrieved from

Lauby, S. J. (2005). Motivating employees. Alexandria, Va.: ASTD Press.

Marturano, A., & Gosling, J. (2007). Leadership: the key concepts. New York: Routledge.

Palmisano, D. J. (2008). On leadership: essential principles for success. New York, NY: Skyhorse Pub.

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Kidd, James. "A Leadership Briefing by General (Ret.) Collin Powell." IvyPanda, 12 Aug. 2019,

1. James Kidd. "A Leadership Briefing by General (Ret.) Collin Powell." IvyPanda (blog), August 12, 2019.


Kidd, James. "A Leadership Briefing by General (Ret.) Collin Powell." IvyPanda (blog), August 12, 2019.


Kidd, James. 2019. "A Leadership Briefing by General (Ret.) Collin Powell." IvyPanda (blog), August 12, 2019.


Kidd, J. (2019) 'A Leadership Briefing by General (Ret.) Collin Powell'. IvyPanda, 12 August.

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