There is a long history of business looking to the military for inspiration [think Sun Tzu and the Art of War]. The link between strategy and tactics, determination and flexibility and the importance of communication can be, in the militaristic world, a matter of life and death. And with such high stakes, comes great insight, but also great responsibility.

This primer on leadership by Colin Powell [courtesy of Tim Kwiatkowski] explains the importance of balance, analysis and the need for action. There are some great key lessons, like “Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off” — which is followed by succinct, yet powerful reasoning:

Good leadership involves responsibility to the welfare of the group, which means that the people will get angry at your actions and decisions. It’s inevitable, if you’re honorable. Trying to get everyone to like you is a sign of mediocrity; you’ll avoid the tough decisions, you’ll avoid confronting the people who need to be confronted, and you’ll avoid offering differential rewards based on differential performance because some people might get upset. Ironically, by procrastinating on the difficult choices, by trying not to get anyone mad, and by treating everyone equally “nicely” regardless of their contributions, you’ll simply ensure that the only people you’ll wind up angering are the most creative and productive people in the organization.

Nina nets it out: There is much that leaders can learn from the military. Colin Powell’s lessons have plenty of actionable intelligence for us all to consider. Find at least one point this week and implement it in your business.