"It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership" by Colin Powell

Brian Gongol

A breezy recollection of anecdotes and personal stories, Colin Powell's book on leadership is probably most valuable as a textbook for anyone who works for or with someone who falls into the ESFJ category on the Myers-Briggs personality typology. Powell returns over and over to themes about showing passion, energy, and loyalty -- but it's also clear that his style could be difficult for those who aren't comfortable with vigorous, loud arguments, or those who function best with an analytical mindset. Without a doubt, Powell has served his country well for many decades and his story is worthwhile in its own right for that reason. His methods will work for some, but not all -- a fact tactily admitted in the title of the book itself. Some of the chapters have a throwaway quality -- things he probably could have just posted on the Internet to "put it out there", but not especially worth documenting in a book (Chapter 40, "On the Road", documents his strong preferences about hotel pillows...not really essential leadership reading matter). Others, though, offer useful insights from the perspective of a person whose temperament could be described as "heart of a Boy Scout with the temperament of an ambitious stockbroker". His rules are mostly about "getting it done" -- not the process of thinking it over.

Verdict: Highly recommended if you work for or with someone of Powell's personality type. Generally interesting otherwise, but not essential.