In his latest book (It Worked For Me) he expounds upon them, but also includes a couple new ideas. And while at times I feel like the Army, with its strict hierarchy, is as far as you can get from the startup office battlefield, I do think these tips apply:
1.) It’s important for you, as a founder and leader, to consistently embed your own sense of purpose into the heart and soul of every employee. Be sure you’re constantly talking with your people, explaining the importance of what you’re doing- whether it be alleviating a pain-point for your customers or creating products that delight. When it’s clear that you’re excited to get up in the morning, your company will feel more compelled to jump in line behind you. And bear in mind that purpose is more than a simple mission statement. Colin explains, “Purpose is the destination of a vision. It energizes that vision, gives it force and drive. It should be positive and powerful, and serve the better angles of an organization.”
2.) In a startup you generally end up wearing lots of hats. Some of those hats might not be very enjoyable- like being responsible for literally taking out the trash. To that, Colin says, “99% of work can be seen as noble…Every job is a learning experience, and we can develop and grow in every one. If you take the pay, earn it. Always do your very best. Even when no one else is looking, you always are. Don’t disappoint yourself.” When you’re working at a startup, you’re responsible for your own success or failure; no one has time to breathe down your neck. Be sure to set high standards for yourself, as the company and you, will be better off for it.
3.) Sometimes it’s hard to tell where your time is best spent, particularly as a founder. Should you be the road talking to customers or raising funds? Should you be in the office inspiring employees and managing projects in the pipeline? Should you be crunching numbers in your office? Colin very simply states, “Always be at the point of decision.” And he gives an example, “One week into the war, the public mood had become unsettled and the media was becoming critical. Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney and I realized we had to act to settle things down. The point of decision for us at that moment was not in our offices or in situation rooms monitoring the war, but down in the press room.”
So there you have it, a retired 4-star general and former US Secretary of State probably does know a thing or two about leadership, even in startups. Carry on!