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Colin Powell's New Book

            This book had a single theme and that was leadership. The book chronicled the behaviors and thoughts that Colin Powell, the ex-head of the military joint- chiefs- of- staff and now a prominent member of George Bush's cabinet, has demonstrated throughout his career. The book tells anecdotes about Powell as he rose through the ranks in the military. Over and over again it paints Powell as a risk taker and a person who is willing to shake up the status quo. Powell has used a variety of roles to demonstrate his leadership. He has used his role as a provocateur as well as his character in many instances. These attributes combined with his view on getting the job at hand done, have made him an effective leader. In a stodgy organization such as the US military, Powell has achieved much. He has learned and demonstrated his knowledge of people and situations as well as any corporate CEO. Powell has studied the military all of his life. He has learned how the system works and where it often fails. In my mind Powell's biggest success as a leader comes from his extraordinary knowledge of the system he grew up in. Powell learned that if he could lead in a bureaucracy such as the military he could lead in other large government bureaucracies as well. There were no revelations in this book. Powell did not say or do anything new or innovative in his career in the terms of leadership. There are no new leadership styles or approaches mentioned here. The real learning in this book is not the things that Powell did or believed in, it is in the ways he found to bring these ideas into play in the military. For instance in the chapter on "knowing when to piss people off." Powell did not become a general in the US military by spending a lot of time "pissing people off". He usually worked very hard at trying to get along. But because he is such a quick study on the institution of the military he learned that the timing and the target of who you "piss off" could help you when trying to lead people toward a worthy goal.

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