Army Leadership: Colin Powell

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As the saying goes, “With great power, comes great responsibility,” likewise, the role of an army leader is one that comes with great responsibility, power, versatility, and virtuousness in all areas. There are many U.S. Army leaders who have exercised effective and powerful leadership, and General Colin Powell is not an exception.

Born on April 5, 1937, in Harlem, New York, Colin Powell was the son of Jamaican immigrants. He was educated in the New York City Public School system, graduated from Morris High School in 1954, and went on to City College of New York. It was there that Powell studied geology and joined the Reserved Officers Training Corps( ROTC). Powell’s remarkable leadership career began as soon as he became commander of his unit.

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Upon graduation in 1958, Powell was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. While in service, he gradually rose to the rank of 4-star General by holding several and diverse leading positions and becoming the first African- American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

For several reasons, Powell has undeniably proven his skills as an effective leader by meeting the core sets of requirements that define what a leader should be and should do. For instance, General Powell had a strong presence. He always presented himself with a dignified military and professional bearing and was always known for his straightforward charismatic approach. His intellect is another attribute worth mentioning. Powell earned an MBA at the George Washington University and won a White House Fellowship in 1972. During his time at the White House, Caper Weinberger, the Secretary of Defense and Frank Carlcucci, National Security advisor, would frequently consult Powell for advice. General Powell’s character was an important attribute he very much displayed virtuously. In 1968-69, Powell served a second tour of duty in Vietnam where he was injured in a helicopter crash. However, being a selfless soldier who lived by the Warrior Ethos he stood for, he selflessly managed to rescue his comrades from the burning helicopter despite his own injuries. General Powell has received about 11 military decorations including the Legion of Merit. This proves the undeniable fact that Powell’s character continues to exemplify the qualities of a leader.

In addition, Powell was a man of integrity. In 1991, There was an issue regarding the secret shipment of American arms to Iran, he was one of the only five people in the Pentagon who knew about the operation. He was called to testify before Congress on the matter. However, due to his integrity, honor and undying loyalty, he was not implicated in any wrongdoing. His organizational leadership skills won him for his efficient administration and hard work within the State Department, and excellent cordial relations with other governments. Later that year, he also took a leading role in rallying America’s allies for military action in Afghanistan. It was no surprise when later on in 2001, Colin Powell was appointed by President George W, Bush to be Secretary of State. At the time, it was the highest civilian rank held by an African American. With roles such as a battalion commander, brigadier commander and others, Colin Powell has spent much of his life inspiring many with his leadership skills and life experiences.

All in all, General Colin Powell spent his entire adult life in service to his country. He protected the nation and stood for what it is right while in the military and as a civilian. Consequently, his positive organizational leadership skills which resulted in engaged soldiers and civilians were recognized by all.   


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