The 13 rules of leadership
15 Nov 2012

No matter how positive you are and no matter how passionate you are about doing the right thing, sometimes your working day serves up so many lemons that you just can't help getting sour.

Today was one of those days. It started with a closed car park at the train station. As a creature of habit I always use the same car park at that particular station, I always park at the same end of it, and I know exactly how long it takes me to walk to the station, buy my ticket from the machine and get to the platform. But the car park was closed and immediately the tension levels go up. Then you drive around the complex grid structure at Milton Keynes to get to another car park.

The details for this one are not registered in my phone. I have no change, so have to go through the annoying speech recognition system to register my car to pay by phone. Eventually the voice confirms that my black Alvis is parked. That will have to do or I am going to be late and hey, Alvis, Audi it's pretty similar.

I rush to the station, get my ticket, rush to the platform and just make the train. I have to get that train as I have an important teleconference that I need to make our London office in time to dial in for.

Tension levels returning to normal as I find a seat on the fairly crowded train and for a while all is well. Until that dreaded moment as the train slows and stops and then the super loud voice on the tannoy announces a signal failure and a short delay. Short delay turns into long delay and I arrive in London 15 minutes after the aforementioned important teleconference should have started. I put on my headphones and dial in and then walk to the office looking like I am talking to myself.

The teleconference doesn't exactly go the way I expect and I probably show that by being more blunt than is appropriate. It finishes and I feel frustrated. Frustration which I vent on some of my staff when I arrive in the London office. Not big or clever!

I move immediately to meeting number 2 of the day and proceed to brief a supplier at a speed he couldn't possibly make notes at and again being way too blunt and frustrated when he didn't get it first time.

Meeting ends. Coffee (and, I am ashamed to say, a cigarette) and calm descends over my world once more.

Whilst I was in that meeting, one of my team (who I had barked at earlier) had sent me an email with the 13 rules of leadership. I read them, I felt bad, then I felt good as my subconscious must have changed my mood and a smile fell over my face.

It doesn't matter how much we all tell ourselves we are in control of our emotions, sometimes we fail, but things like these 13 rules simply help to remind us of what is right.

They come from Colin Powell's autobiography and here they are:

  1. It ain’t as bad as you think. It will look better in the morning.
  2. Get mad, then get over it.
  3. Avoid having your ego so close to your position that when your position fails, your ego goes with it.
  4. It can be done!
  5. Be careful what you choose. You may get it.
  6. Don’t let adverse facts stand in the way of a good decision.
  7. You can’t make someone else’s choices. You shouldn’t let someone else make yours.
  8. Check small things.
  9. Share credit.
  10. Remain calm. Be kind.
  11. Have a vision. Be demanding.
  12. Don’t take the counsel of your fears or naysayers.
  13. Perpetual optimism is a force multiplier.