Colin Powell on Leadership

On Oct. 18, 2021, the world lost one of the most influential individuals over the past 50 years. Former Secretary of State Colin Powell was instrumental in setting the standard for modern foreign affairs and diplomatic service. As the U.S. National Security Advisor under President Ronald Regan, he rose to the rank of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Bill Clinton, and under President George W. Bush, became the first African American to hold the office of U.S. Secretary of State. A highly decorated military official, he received the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice, among other accomplishments.

During his career, Powell was the epitome of calm under pressure, and his views on communicating unscalable obstacles through simplicity are helpful to today’s leaders as they were to world leaders during his tenure.

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

While you may not be leading a military unit or overseeing an oversees conflict, the truth of simplicity remains constant. Leaders must be able to look at the big picture, find a solution to a problem, and then communicate the plan in a clear, concise format that will calm all debate and doubt.

Being clear-headed and resolute is a priceless quality of a leader. When plans go astray or problems arise, people will look to the individual with the calm demeanor and the steady hand. Colin Powell used this approach for the entirety of his career, and leaders today can follow suit to become the calm commander of their team.

How has simplistic communication helped your leadership approach? What other individuals do you look toward for leadership advice? Let us know in the comments section below!

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