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Colin Powell

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Submitted By dwilliams
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The leader whom I researched is Retired General Colin Powell. He grew up in a tough neighborhood, educated in the public school system and went to City College in New York. After completing the schools ROTC’s program and graduating, Colin Powell was commissioned as an Army second lieutenant. He held many leadership positions to include National Security Advisor during the Reagan Administration, becoming the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest position in the Defense Department, and becoming the first African –American to become Secretary of State during the Bush administration.
Colin Powell received some of the best training the military, and the country, but stands out from his peers as being one of the few individuals who can traverse political party lines and lead diverse individuals and organizations. He said “leaders must be passionate, demonstrate selflessness, and empower their people to do their jobs.” Below are some examples that show why he exhibits the 7 competencies of an effective leader:
Ethics Competency: Colin Powell shows ethics competency by having the knowledge, skills and abilities to incorporate values and principles that distinguish right from wrong. When he was the National Security Advisor he found that he product the military produced seldom did not meet the policy maker’s needs. “He believed that it was his responsibility to initiate change in strategy and he did not want to be accused of not responding to world events.”
Self-Competency includes the knowledge, skills, and abilities to assess a person’s own strengths and weaknesses. In a biography of Colin Powell by David Roth, Powell admits that he went to college for one reason, his parents expected him to go.” He maintained a “C” average in his major but excelled in with A’s in all ROTC classes. He credits much of his success in school to his parents. “It was nothing they never said that taught me, it was the way they lived their lives.”
Diversity Competency includes the knowledge, skills and abilities to value unique individual and group characteristics. Strategic leaders deal with diversity, ambiguity, complexity and change. An example of this is when Colin Powell, former President Jimmy Carter, and Senator Sam Nunn went to Haiti in 1994 to negotiate with Lieutenant General Raoul Cederas. They were able to persuade Cedras to hand over power in an uncertain and ambiguous environment.
The Across Culture Competency includes the knowledge, skills and abilities to recognize and embrace similarities and differences among nations and cultures…During Colin Powell’s two years as the National Security Advisor; he performed many services beyond those required of a uniform officer. His daily routine dealt with constant decision making and then passing along recommendations on issues from setting up summits, free trade agreement, with Canada, to other areas such as economic and geo political issues.
The Communication Competency includes the knowledge, skills, and abilities to transmit, receive, and understand data, information, thoughts, and emotions…”One of the most notable policies he helped shape dealt with reversing the race toward nuclear Armageddon. He demonstrated the ability to advise the President on policy development, strategy, and resourcing issues. As NSA, he provided a textbook example of effective senior leadership as well as a person who was a great communicator.
The Teams Competency includes the knowledge, skills and abilities to develop, support and lead teams to achieve organizational goals. Colin Powell’s final task as chairman was to lead the post –war strategy of downsizing the U.S. military. He recognized he would have to build consensus with the Administration, DOD, Congress, the Service Chiefs, and the American people
The Change Competency includes the knowledge, skills and abilities to recognize and implement needed adaptations or entirely new transformations. Colin Powell emphasized central themes of his vision, need for a U.S strategy of engagement, Base Force requirements, changes in world affairs, and a gradual downsize in the US military.
Many factors contributed to Colin Powell’s success as a leader: his parents, his education, his strong work ethic, strong leadership skills, love for the military, and the ability to work and communicate with people from all walks of life.
1. Holberton, Phil. “Speaking of Leadership. Vol.2, No 8. “Profile of a Leader”-Colin Powell: 2. Johansen, Greg, LTC: Strategic Leadership Assessment of Colin Powell:

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