Hace algunos años recibí estos 18 consejos de liderazgo de Colin Powell, ex Secretario de Estado de los EE.UU. Me permito presentarlos en su idioma original. Si desean con mucho gusto traduzco el documento para ustedes.
(Foto tomada de Wikipedia: http://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Colin_Powell)
“Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off.”
Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that some people will get angry at your actions and decisions. It’s inevitable-if you’re honorable. Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity: You’ll avoid the tough decisions, you’ll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted, and you’ll avoid offering differential rewards based on differential performance because some people might get upset. Ironically, by procrastinating on the difficult choices, by trying not to get anyone mad, and by treating everyone equally “nicely” regardless of their contributions, you’ll simply ensure that the only people you’ll wind up angering are the most creative and productive people in the organization.
“The day soldiers stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them. They have either lost confidence that you can help them or concluded that you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.”
If this were a litmus test, the majority of CEOs would fail. One, they build so many barriers to upward communication that the very idea of someone lower in the hierarchy looking up to the leader for help is ludicrous. Two, the corporate culture they foster often defines asking for help as weakness or failure, so people cover up their gaps, and the organization suffers accordingly. Real leaders make themselves accessible and available. They show concern for the efforts and challenges faced by underlings-even as they demand high standards. Accordingly, they are more likely to create an environment where problem analysis replaces blame.
Don’t be buffaloed by experts and elite’s. Experts often possess more data than judgment. Elite’s can become so inbred that they produce hemophiliacs who bleed to death as soon as they are nicked by the real world.”
“Don’t be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard.”
Learn from the pros, observe them, seek them out as mentors and partners. But remember that even the pros may have leveled out in terms of their learning and skills. Sometimes even the pros can become complacent and lazy. Leadership does not emerge from blind obedience to anyone. Xerox’s Barry Rand was right on target when he warned his people that if you have a yes-man working for you, one of you is redundant. Good leadership encourages everyone’s evolution.
“Never neglect details. When everyone’s mind is dulled or distracted the leader must be doubly vigilant.”
“You don’t know what you can get away with until you try.”
You know the expression “it’s easier to get forgiveness than permission?” Well, it’s true. Good leaders don’t wait for official blessing to try things out. They’re prudent, not reckless. But they also realize a fact of life in most organizations: If you ask enough people for permission, you’ll inevitably come up against someone who believes his job is to say “no.”
“Keep looking below surface appearances. Don’t shrink from doing so (just) because you might not like what you find.”
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. In a brain-based economy, your best assets are people.
“Organization charts and fancy titles count for next to nothing.”
Organization charts are frozen, anachronistic photos in a workplace that ought to be as dynamic as the external environment around you. If people really followed organization charts, companies would collapse. In well-run organizations, titles are also pretty meaningless. At best, they advertise some authority-an official status conferring the ability to give orders and induce obedience. But titles mean little in terms of real power, which is the capacity to influence and inspire. Have you ever noticed that people will personally commit to certain individuals who on paper (or on the org chart) possess little authority-but instead possess pizzazz, drive, expertise and genuine caring for teammates and products? On the flip side, non-leaders in management may be formally anointed with all the perks and frills associated with high positions, but they have little influence on others, apart from their ability to extract minimal compliance to minimal standards.
“Never let your ego get so close to your position that when your position goes, your ego goes with it.”
Too often, change is stifled by people who cling to familiar turfs and job descriptions. One reason that even large organizations wither is that managers won’t challenge old, comfortable ways of doing things. But real leaders understand that, nowadays, every one of our jobs is becoming obsolete. The proper response is to obsolete our activities before someone else does. Effective leaders create a climate where people’s worth is determined by their willingness to learn new skills and grab new responsibilities, thus perpetually reinventing their jobs. The most important question in performance evaluation becomes not, “How well did you perform your job since the last time we met?” but, “How much did you change it?”
“Fit no stereotypes. Don’t chase the latest management fads. The situation dictates which approach best accomplishes the team’s mission.”
“Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.”
The ripple effect of a leader’s enthusiasm and optimism is awesome. So is the impact of cynicism and pessimism. Leaders who whine and blame engender those same behaviors among their colleagues. I am not talking about stoically accepting organizational stupidity and performance incompetence with a “what, me worry?” smile. I am talking about a gung ho attitude that says “we can change things here, we can achieve awesome goals, we can be the best.” Spare me the grim litany of the “realist”; give me the unrealistic aspirations of the optimist any day.
“Powell’s Rules for Picking People” – Look for intelligence and judgment 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.”
(Borrowed by Powell from Michael Korda): “Great leaders are almost always great simplifiers, who can cut through argument, debate and doubt, to offer a solution everybody can understand.”
Their decisions are crisp and clear, not tentative and ambiguous. They convey an unwavering firmness and consistency in their actions, aligned with the picture of the future they paint. The result? Clarity of purpose, credibility of leadership, and integrity in organization.
Part I: “Use the formula P@ 40 to 70, in which P stands for the probability of success and the numbers indicate the percentage of information acquired.”
Part II: “Once the information is in the 40 to 70 range, go with your gut. Powell’s advice is don’t take action if you have only enough information to give you less than a 40 percent chance of being right, but don’t wait until you have enough facts to be 100 percent sure, because by then it is almost always too late. His instinct is right: Today, excessive delays in the name of information-gathering breeds “analysis paralysis.”
Procrastination in the name of reducing risk actually increases risk.
“The commander in the field is always right and the rear echelon is wrong, unless proved otherwise.”
Too often, the reverse defines corporate culture. This is one of the main reasons why leaders like Ken Iverson of Nucor Steel, Percy Barnevik of Asea Brown Boveri, and Richard
Branson of Virgin have kept their corporate staffs to a bare-bones minimum. (And I do mean minimum-how about fewer than> 100 central corporate staffers for global $30 billion-plus ABB? Or around 25 and 3 for multi-billion Nucor and Virgin, respectively?) Shift the power and the financial accountability to the folks who are bringing in the beans, not the ones who are counting or analyzing them.
“Have fun in your command. Don’t always run at a breakneck pace. Take leave when you’ve earned it: Spend time with your families.”
“Command is lonely.”
Harry Truman was right. Whether you’re a CEO or the temporary head of a project team, the buck stops here. You can encourage participative management and bottom-up employee involvement but ultimately, the essence of leadership is the willingness to make the tough, unambiguous choices that will have an impact on the fate of the organization. I’ve seen too many non-leaders flinch from this responsibility. Even as you create an informal, open, collaborative corporate culture, prepare to be lonely.