Informative Essay on Colin Powell’s Leadership Principles

Last Updated: 03 May 2023
Essay type: Informative
Pages: 3 Views: 113
Table of contents

General (R) Colin Powell was the 65* United States Secretary of State. He served in the United States Army from 1958 through 1993. During his 35 year career he served two tours in Vietnam in 1963 and 1968 and a tour in Korea in 1973. Additionally he helped to coordinate the invasion of Grenada and the bombing of Libya. Gen. Powell was appointed as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1989. He served as the secretary of state under President George W. Bush from 2000 to 2004 ( Editors, 2018. Both his military and his civilian careers will echo through history forever. The decisions that he made changed the course of US history and the lives of the men and woman who served under him. He left a legacy of 18 leadership principles to help to guide us through our careers and beyond.

The day they stop bringing you their problems is the day that you have stopped leading them. General Colin Powell's second principle of leadership is "The day they stop bringing you their problems is the day you have stopped leading them." This principle directly relates to trust. Soldiers who trust their leaders will feel comfortable enough to bring their problems to them. AR 600-100, Army Leadership (2017) states "The five essential characteristics of the Army Profession - trust, military expertise, honorable service, stewardship, and esprit de corps - are vital to the Army Culture." (paragraph 1-7) This trust is vital because Soldiers must be willing to execute a command from their superior, even if they don't fully understand why. ADP 6-22, Army Leadership and Profession (2019) states:

People naturally accept the influence of people they trust. When high levels of trust exist among members of an organization, its members are more likely to influence each other up and down the chain of command and laterally with other organizations. Trust increases readiness and is essential for developing the shared understanding of intent that facilitates initiative by everyone within the organization. (paragraph 5-44)

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Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved. General Powell's eighth leadership principle is "Endeavors succeed or fail because of the people involved." This principle relates to knowing the personnel for which you are responsible and employing them in a manner that benefits them and the 2 organization. Each Soldier has their own strengths and weaknesses. Although a leader should always be encouraging their Soldiers to develop their weaknesses, they should also employ those Soldiers in a manner that exploits their strengths. This empowers the subordinates and encourages them to strive to improve both their strengths and their weaknesses.

Command Is Lonely

Colin Powell's eighteenth leadership principle is "Command is Lonely". This speaks to the responsibility and liability that is inherent in a command position. Although Commanders have a staff and they have personnel to assist them in their decision making, the outcome of that decision is the sole liability of the Commander. Additionally, Commanders must ensure that there are no appearances of impropriety or favoritism among their Soldiers. In order to ensure that all Soldiers feel that they are being treated fairly, a Commander must not have any type of relationship other than professional with the Soldiers for which they are responsible.


Colin Powell is a battle-tested, proven leader. His leadership principles are applicable to people from all walks of life. His life and career have had a vast impact on our country. His influence can be felt beyond the formations of which he was in command and the policies that he enacted. He strove to always be a leaders upon which his subordinates could rely. General Powell was successful in his military and civilian career because of his steadfast loyalty to this leadership principles.


  1. Editors (2018). Colin Powell Biography. Retrieved October 13, 2019, from
  2. Army Regulation (AR) 600-100, Army Leadership. (2017)
  3. Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 6-22, Army Leadership and the Profession. (2019).

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Informative Essay on Colin Powell’s Leadership Principles. (2023, May 03). Retrieved from

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