Colin Powell on Leadership and RecruitingRecently I finished reading the best selling book,  The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell, which is a great book on a great leader and statesman who served under Presidents Bush Sr, Clinton and GW Bush. Many of us admire his direct, calm, logical and non nonsense approach to leadership.

The Powell Doctrine  represents a well respected and pragmatic philosophy of using military force only when necessary, and his 13 Rules of Leadership serve as a useful set of rules for any business or sales leader:

  • It ain’t as bad as you think.
  • Get mad, then get over it.
  • Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position falls, your ego goes with it.
  • It can be done.
  • Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
  • Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
  • You can’t make someone else’s choices.
  • Check small things.
  • Share credit.
  • Remain calm. Be kind.
  • Have a vision.
  • Don’t take counsel of your fears or naysayers.
  • Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.

The book has three main sections with the first entitled “Powell as a Provocateur” in which the author describes how Powell challenges people and assumptions, the second entitled “Powell on Strategy and Execution” which he provides insight on how he makes decisions, and the third entitled “Powell the Character” which summarizes his leadership philosophies.

Of particular note is Chapter 11 in which the author describes 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

Hard to argue with these traits for any role and particularly in sales, where intangible character traits such as ambition, competitiveness, sense of urgency and resilience are the critical difference between success and failure. There is much research to prove that these things matter more than resume length and credential and great leaders know that recruiting the right DNA onto their sales team will be the difference between success and failure in their own career.

Great book. Highly recommend.

To your success!


Eliot Burdett

CEO at Peak Sales Recruiting
Before Peak, Eliot spent more than 20 years building and leading companies, where he took the lead in recruiting and managing high performance sales teams. He co-founded Ventrada Systems (mobile applications) and GlobalX (e-commerce software). He was also Vice President of Sales for PointShot Wireless.

Eliot received his B. Comm. from Carleton University and has been honored as a Top 40 Under 40 Award winner.

He co-authored Sales Recruiting 2.0, How to Find Top Performing Sales People, Fast and provides regular insights on sales team management and hiring on the Peak Sales Recruiting Blog.

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