Recently, I had the privilege of listening to former Secretary of Sate, General Colin Powell at the “Get Motivated” seminar in Nashville.

He was warm, engaging, humorous, motivational and practical. He presented a textbook model of an excellent keynote speech.

One topic were his feelings transitioning from a position of great power and prestige; “I was the most important diplomat in the free world”  to being “just a normal guy.”

How to fill the emptiness?

“Buy a Corvette”

“My life is very different now.” He talked about his current non-profit work with America’s Promise, motivational speaking on leadership, and his venture capitalist investments in “the information revolution”.

He also discussed his development as a leader.

“Everything I learned about leadership I learned at lieutenant school at Fort Benning, where our motto was ‘Follow Me’. Develop follower-ship. Lead your followers.”

“Your job as a leader is to put your followers in the best possible position to get the job done.” 

Four Simple Principles for Leading Followers:

1) Give them missions and goals to rally around. Give them a clear purpose.  Give them a reason why this is important. Answer the question, “What are we here for?” Explain how this serves our society, our nation and fellow man.

The best leaders communicate this down to every single person in the organization. There is no unimportant job. Convey their value.

WL application: We have the most important job there is: “Help people worship God wholeheartedly”

2)  Take care of the troops. Take care of those following you. Give them the skills, the tools, the equipment they need. Illustration – State department computer upgrades.

WL application: Treat people right.

3) Recognize good performance. Express appreciation. Tell them,  “Thank You for a good job. I’m glad you’re on our team.”

WL application: Be a good-finder. Be an encourager.

4) Discipline your team. Do not tolerate poor performance. Retrain. Relocate. But be clear, you have to keep up or get fired. Be realistic. Deal with problems when they come along.

WL application: Be compassionate, but make the tough call when you have to.

Trust is the essence of every good organization.

“It’s all about the human connection. Convey to your followers you believe in them. We’re all in this together.”

This video is not from the event I attended but has the same basic points.

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“Colin Powell Speaks About Leadership” Video

Question: What non-religious leader has influenced your leadership philosophy ?