Newsline , Society

Hiring Leaders

Posted on Thursday, July 11, 2024
by AMAC, Robert B. Charles

In many ways, a presidential, congressional, gubernatorial, or legislative election is a job interview, with the people hiring leaders, picked from candidates invited to show their wares. Our job is to pick the best ones.  So, what are we looking for?

I hear you, some are saying you already have your winners, at every level. Or you are dismayed by lack of choice, too few good people stepping up. Fair enough. Or maybe you need no help or are just done with politics.

All that may seem true, even be true, but let me slow your horse, or ask you to slow him, to consider what leadership is. We are galloping, all headed in our own directions, legs flying, muscle memory doing the work. But circle and slow.

What should we be looking for? The same thing you look for in any employee, contractor, broker, manager, or advisor, even a caregiver or dog sitter.

Colin Powell, a leader in multiple settings, knew something about hiring, guiding, and inspiring people. For a better team and outcomes, he gave us insight. Set clear expectations, provide encouragement, and forgive small stuff, but demand big stuff.

“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.” That is the basic package.

Now, flip the script, and think about being boss, because you – we – are. We are doing the hiring for these positions, from president to local judge. Ask “Am I getting someone with those qualities, or most of them, any of them?” 

Powell had a good compass for leadership. We can borrow it when picking leaders. He made many decisions with reference to 13 rules, compressed here. We should.

Can the person you are selecting hold fire? Do they know “it isn’t as bad as you think … will look better in the morning?” Can they “get mad and get over it?” Is their “ego too close to their position,” or can they see much of life is not personal?

Are they creative, consistent, and resolved to solve problems, able to see “it can be done?” Do they make decisions knowing you may “get what you ask for?”

Are they ready to make “the right decision” even if it costs relationships? Can they decide well in crisis or face tough choices, the “adverse facts” notwithstanding?

Are they confident enough in themselves to brook criticism, see non-decisions are decisions, and that every decision they make is with incomplete information, but they have to make it, own it, and correct it later if wrong?

With the “big picture,” do they “check small things, the ‘little foxes’ as King Solomon put it, that ruin the best-laid plans?”  One day, he told us how he was a jumpmaster, and told everyone to check their lines were hooked. All said they were. He checked each before the jump – one was not. Detail, attention to detail by leaders, matters.

Are they quick to “share credit,” knowing no one does anything alone, many make a solution, and deserve credit. If you take care of your people, they return the favor.

Do they have a vision, share it, live it, demand others lean into it, credit those who do, but keep accountable those who do not? Do they “hold people accountable?”

Do they know how to look into a challenge calmly, and rise to it, or do they “take counsel of their fears?” Can they “dismiss uninformed naysayers,” just do it, go?

Finally are they an optimist, do they live it, knowing “optimism is a force-multiplier?” Are they able to see a way forward when others do not, keep their bearing?

There are Powell’s rules, built on the foundation of a leader who is self-aware, thoughtful, reflective, decisive, and trustworthy. Our job? Pick them.

We are about to hire leaders, so we need to remember what we are looking for at the national, state, town, and even school board level. Are we looking for the right stuff? We should be. That is our job, what the Nation’s Founders hired us for.

Robert Charles is a former Assistant Secretary of State under Colin Powell, former Reagan and Bush 41 White House staffer, attorney, and naval intelligence officer (USNR). He wrote “Narcotics and Terrorism” (2003), “Eagles and Evergreens” (2018), and is National Spokesman for AMAC.

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2 days ago

Thank you for sharing Mr. Powell’s rules. Decision paralysis is a common trend I saw during my times in the workforce. Many managers failed to realize that not making a decision, makes a decision. And peaking around a corner is a way to try and get another perspective, or imagine what someone else’s perspective is to a situation. Also very helpful. When I was a manager, I followed most of his rules, but I didn’t know they were his rules until today. I just did because they made sense to me. And I did what I could to teach them to others. Some were ready, others were not. I used a phrase, ‘when the student is ready, the teacher appears,’ as an explanation. I do not know the origin of that phrase either, but I got it from somewhere. Thank you for sharing these and reminding me that I was not as silly as I thought I might have been. Please keep on writing, sir.

Sean Rickman
Sean Rickman
1 day ago

AMERICA needs a purge,a purge of politicians that are career entities that are more for their welfare than the plight of the working AMERICAN.The”hiden biden”cult that inflation rate is down.The total inflation rate since joey took office is pushing 20% and that is totally ridiculous.Wake up voters,you may not like Trumps mouth,but he is a good business person and NOT a politician and those are two good things.AMERICANS need to purge democ rats if we want to survive as a free country,SCREW SOCIALISM.

Rob citizenship
Rob citizenship
2 days ago

The 13 rules — from Colin Powell ,all make very good sense, and you are right RBC about referring to these rules when deciding on new leaders to pick. This is very encouraging information for people who are truly interested in. keeping this Constitutional Republic operating as it should. Since the 1970’s. I have always thought in terms of good decision making being the result of planning, organization, and coordinating what is planned and organized in order to schedule things. properly — those procedures are all connected by clear , intelligent communication, and the good decision making leads to good management. I do believe that outlook blends in with the rules listed here in this article. The idea of having Vision is something of great importance and the matter of attention to detail connects with many other plans and rules . With Faith, Courage, Truth and Honor. With a sense of purpose and respect for Liberty and the will of God , the idea of Trustworthiness wii be aided by these noble thoughts.

Robert Charles
Robert Charles
2 days ago

I don’t know one of you kids keeps calling my number sending me packages under the name of a mister pedo file but it’s not funny.

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