Home » 19 Quotes From Colin Powell: How to Be a Successful Leader

19 Quotes From Colin Powell: How to Be a Successful Leader

by Bob

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Colin Powell might be among the best people whom you can learn about how to be a successful leader. He’s a retired four-star general, politician, and diplomat as well as the first African-American chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State. He wrote the book “My American Journey” where he recounted his life in the military to his successful political career.

Powell’s book is not just a simple autobiography, but it is also what readers call the “leadership bible”. It was filled with priceless leadership lessons that are applicable to any profession, including entrepreneurship. So if you are looking for some inspiration to lead your business to success, let these Colin Powell quotes give you the motivation you need!


7 Powerful Colin Powell Leadership Quotes

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Everything starts with being a good leader. One of the basic requirements before you start any business is good leadership skills. Even if you have a very experienced team, if they don’t see you as a great leader, you will be leading your business to chaos. 

Learn how to be a good leader first. Below are the best leadership quotes from Colin Powell that can help you:


“The best method of overcoming obstacles is the team method.” – Colin Powell

They say no man is an island, and this is true in the business world. You can never succeed on your own. You will always need people to help you once in a while. Learn to work with a team if you want to ensure the success of your business.


“Leadership is solving problems. 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 or concluded you do not care. Either case is a failure of leadership.” – Colin Powell

If your team members go to you for advice on how to solve their problems, this means that they have confidence in you. Good leaders should be experienced enough to be able to help the team identify and solve problems to avoid failure.


“Never neglect small details, even to the point of being a pest. Moments of stress, confusion, and fatigue are exactly when mistakes happen. And when everyone else’s mind is dulled or distracted, the leaders must be doubly vigilant. Always check small things.” Colin Powell

In stressful moments when everyone in your team is disorganized and at their weakest, be the strongest one. Fortify the basics and make sure that they are followed before taking any action. This avoids mistakes that you might regret later on.


“In other words, don’t expect to always be great. Disappointments, failures, and setbacks are a normal part of the lifecycle of a unit or a company and what the leader has to do is constantly be up and say ‘we have a problem, let’s go and get it’.” – Colin Powell

Being in the business industry will never be easy. You will face a lot of disappointments and failures, but it is your role as a leader to always have a positive attitude. That’s how you succeed.


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

Not all in your team have the same way of thinking and misunderstandings will happen very often. Again, as a leader, it is your job to settle any argument and offer a more understandable solution.


“If a leader doesn’t convey passion and intensity then there will be no passion and intensity within the organization and they’ll start to fall down and get depressed.” – Colin Powell

Remember, you have a team to lead and they look up to you. If they don’t see the passion in you, especially in hard times, there is a big chance that they will get discouraged too. You wouldn’t want your business to fail because of your own doing.


“Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.” – Colin Powell

Don’t get too attached to your position, or don’t let your position define you. Being a leader is not about what your position is. As long as you have a team that believes in you, you are a leader.


7 Inspirational Colin Powell Success Quotes

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Optimism and hard work: these are the key secrets to success. What you will achieve will depend on what you think you can. Your mindset will always have a great impact on your success. Now that you have learned how to be an effective leader, the next step is having the right mindset and attitude to guarantee success.


“I have always tried to keep my confidence and optimism up, no matter how difficult the situation.” – Colin Powell

Do you feel overwhelmed due to too many obstacles you’re facing? Chin up! Hard times don’t always last forever. Keep the fire burning and don’t lose hope. Always remember that there is always a ray of light at the end of a dark tunnel.


“So like any football or basketball coach, you always always believe you’re going to win.” – Colin Powell

As we’ve said earlier, it’s all about having the proper mindset. Focus on achieving your goals instead of on how hard the challenges you are faced with are. Always be optimistic and believe in your own ability to win.


“The chief condition on which life, health, and vigor depend on is action. It is by action that an organism develops its faculties, increases its energy, and attains the fulfillment of its destiny.” – Colin Powell

Success requires action. If you want to achieve something great, you should also exert great effort for it. Don’t be afraid to take small steps, because even small actions can lead you to great results. 


“Always be looking for that which you do well and that which you love doing. And when you find those two things together — man, you got it.” – Colin Powell

Do what you don’t love and you will always feel stressed and tired even if the task seems very simple. But if you work for something that stirs your soul, the passion will always be there no matter how challenging the task is.


“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure.” – Colin Powell

If you ask successful people how they were able to achieve their goals, they will always tell you the failures and hardships they needed to endure. So if you want success, you need to work for it.


“A dream doesn’t become reality through magic; it takes sweat, determination and hard work.” – Colin Powell

Don’t expect your dreams to be handed to you on a silver platter. If you want the prize, run the race. Don’t keep on asking why you haven’t reached your dreams yet when you haven’t done anything to achieve them.


“All work is honorable. Always do your best, because someone is watching.” – Colin Powell

No matter how easy or small you think your task is, always do it with great dedication. There will always be someone who will appreciate and notice your hard work. Someday, it will all pay off.


5 Wise Colin Powell Quotes on Decision Making

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Among the distinct qualities of effective leaders is being able to make tough decisions. Many leaders are afraid of making wrong decisions because of the fear that they might fail to achieve set goals, hurt other people or embarrass themselves. 

But with Colin Powell’s decision-making principles, you can learn priceless lessons that can help you make the best decisions to guarantee success.


“Dig up all the information you can, then go with your instincts.” – Colin Powell

Before you make any decision, make sure that you have all of the information you need first. Don’t take action before you are done gathering all the facts. After that, trust your instincts because they tell you more than you think.


“Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.” – Colin Powell

You have made a full-proof plan, but along the road, you’re tested with an adverse fact (such as the stock market crashing down). Do you easily give up and stop completely? Powell points out thinking about the situation, challenging it and going around it to see a better way. 


“Always find different ways to accomplish the mission. Then run a counter-analysis and list the advantages and disadvantages. When you have done that, you are ready to make a decision.” – Colin Powell

List down all of your options and their possible outcomes first. After that, weigh the pros and cons of each option. This will make sure that you choose the right decision.


“Good and solid analysis and a formal way of looking at a problem are the core ingredients of good decisions.” – Colin Powell

The message of this quote is similar to the previous one. You need to analyze the problem thoroughly. Determine the root cause of the problem so you’ll know what you are really trying to find a solution to.


“Generally you should act somewhere between P40 and P70, as I call it. Sometime after you have obtained 40% of all the information you are liable to get, start thinking in terms of making a decision. When you have about 70% of all the information, you probably ought to decide, because you may lose an opportunity in losing time.” – Colin Powell

Powell has a golden rule when it comes to tough decision-making: decide when you have 40% – 70% of the information you need. Deciding below 40% makes you at risk of making mistakes while deciding above 70% makes you lose opportunities.


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Wrapping Up

Every success story you will find will always talk about good leadership. A business leader who cannot effectively handle chaos will lead the company to its fall. Not all are born to be good leaders, but leadership is a skill that is learned through experience.

Learning from successful people, like Colin Powell, is also a great way to improve your own skills. So hopefully, our list of Colin Powell quotes has given you the push you need to keep aiming for the success of your business.

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