Colin Powell’s “It Worked For Me in Life and Leadership” (2012) is a riveting book that discusses in great detail the simple but often-fundamental leadership principles that have been consigned to oblivion by most people and leaders. The evocative book provides a basis on which one can evaluate their strengths and weaknesses in leadership in all dimensions, particularly at the work place and suggests other areas of improvement that the reader can asses to ensure proper development. Through careful, frequent and honest evaluations from both self and others, it is possible for a person to become the best version of himself or herself; in turn, this contributes to a well-rounded leader.
Most people recognize Colin Powell as one of the most admired and popular leaders of our time. Often times in leadership you will not always be popular or admired, so what makes this leader different? It was those core values ingrained in him at early age by his parents that would shape him as a future leader (Koltz & Powell, 2012). As with any great leader he’s had his fair share of trials and tribulations, but like an infantry officer he continued to press forward. Colin Powell has been a visionary and ethical leader since the early days of Persian Gulf to Washington’s corridors (Roth, 1993). Throughout my research he has become a personal inspiration for me due to his ability to inspire and motivate those around him. Let’s take a brief look into his background to provide a better understanding of his leadership style.
Leadership. It is a trait that is valued in almost any form of society. Whether it be leadership in the workplace or leadership on the battlefield, leadership is a prized capability for people. But, according to Colin Powell, this valued leadership trait can be lost at the hands of the followers of that leader. If these followers no longer trust their leader with their problems, then that person is no longer their leader. And, this statement does have some validity. While the raw talents of a leader are valuable to a group, ultimately, the success of the leader is contingent on whether or not the leader acknowledges and includes his followers. Therefore, Powell’s point is agreeable to a large extent, as it is imperative that the followers not only
General S. Patton once said, “Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” Some may argue that his life was cut short while others may say it was too long. Being a man who fought in World War I and World War II, George S. Patton, Jr. certainly contained a wealth of experience in warfare. Looking at the written history, there were those who seemed to undervalue Patton, as well as those who may have held him much too high. Researchers have many different opinions on Patton’s’ leadership, but the research here will encompass both the positive and the negative aspects of his leadership and surrounding issues while addressing the following questions:
When retired General Petraeus’ name is uttered, some recall his stellar 28 year career culminating in the stabilization of war-torn Iraq while everyone remembers his extramarital affair culminating in the release of classified information to his mistress. Similar to a Shakespearian play full of scandal that ends in tragedy, I will assert how General Petraeus is a visionary leader by stabilizing war-torn Iraq from 2007 to 2008 who became an unethical leader while serving as the director of the CIA by having an extramarital affair and releasing classified information to his mistress. To enhance my claim that he is a visionary leader, I will be focusing on his transformational leadership behavior of inspirational motivation and “Lewin’s Phases of Change” during the stabilization efforts. To enhance my claim that he is unethical, I will focus on two contributing factors to his affair and release of confidential material which are: the ethical trap of loyalty syndrome and the ineffective use of intellectual integrity. Finally, I will be detailing my personal relevance utilizing visionary leadership to revector my organization before a Nuclear Surety Inspection and how I became an unethical leader while serving as a team chief in my earlier years. In order to stabilize war-torn Iraq in 2007, a visionary leader was required to enact a revolutionary plan to ease the mind of the American public.
Colin Powell has led in the military for nearly half a century, and is closing in on 20 years of leading as a civilian, since retiring from military service in 1993 . During his military career Powell has had a marked demeanor of composure which has shined through in every situation that has been presented to him. One specific example of this steadfastness is seen in his actions that garnered him the Soldier’s Medal, when even while wounded,
Colin Powell’s choices in his life directly affected his level of success. His reputation as a four star general showed the world he was serious about his career. Throughout his career, he received many awards for his actions and his bravery. The reason that Colin Powell became an American leader is because he did many great things for our country. One of Powell’s most outstanding awards was the Soldier’s Medal for saving his comrades from a burning helicopter. The Bronze Star for acts of heroism in combat and the Purple Heart for being wounded in service were given to him in honor of his outstanding service.
Colin Powell was a very successful man, he quoted could every single day. “What I wanted was to do the best I. .By doing my best every day, day after day, year after year, I finally got to the top” and he did.
As a young officer bitter over the Vietnam War, Powell pondered “the what went wrong syndrome … which created a lively ferment.”2 He disagreed with how the war was run and often struggled with “looking to the other for answers that never came conundrums.”3 As a rising strategic leader, Powell was beginning to understand the “implications of the advice given … and the propensity for operating comfortably at the joint, interagency, intergovernment, and multinational levels.”4 He was also starting to grasp from “personal experience; cultural awareness”5,6 the importance of understanding what military objectives are, who sets them and why.
Prior to reading these four chapters of It Worked for Me, I knew very little about the life of Colin Powell. I knew his name and heard it often throughout Black History Month, but reading an excerpt of this memoir granted me access to rather admirable part of his character. Colin Powell is a true leader with a great deal of understanding between both military experience and his reign as Secretary of State. This book shares what he has learned during his time of power and teaches its readers his best tips on how to
Powell developed 18 principles in Leadership based off of his experiences and these principles could be applied to develop better Leaders. I feel that I could relate to several of his principles but the three that I identify with the most are you don’t know what you can get away with until you try, don’t be afraid to challenge the pros, even in their own backyard and lastly to have fun in your command. Colin Powell’s principle that states you don’t know what you can get away with until you try sticks out to me the most because it’s how I’ve lived my life thus far. My favorite quote is to ask for forgiveness and never for permission. My entire military career has been full of moments of my exercising Mission Commands disciplined initiative
This shows how respected he was among the Washington staff. This also shows the competence, candor, and integrity Powell posses throughout his term in Washington D.C. Colin Powell continues to advance through the ranks and through the staff jobs he was appointed to. He then served as senior military aide to Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger, helping to coordinate the invasion of Granada and the bombing of Libya (Biography.com, 2010). To help coordinate these attacks would have to take great courage, because there’s always a chance of casualties. He commits to these plans and excels with both operations.
“What I really wanted to do was the best I could very single day. By doing the best I could day after day, year after year, I finally got to the top.” That was Colin Powell’s standard to live by. His life was full of achievements, bravery, and service, always demonstrating his dedication to his country. Some people say that Mr. Powell’s good fortune was luck, do you think that is true? I disagree. Colin Powell’s choices directly affected the outcome of his life.
General Powell displays transformation leadership through individualized consideration. “IC involves dealing with others as individuals and considering their needs, abilities, and aspirations as you work together to further their development.” General Powell’s Army background influences the idea of taking raw iron and fashioning it into a sword; as noted in his quote “leaders are made, not born” implies leadership is a shaping process. Transformational leaders who display individual consideration tend to coach and mentor, excel in two-way communications, listens effectively, and personalize interactions with subordinates. Part of General Powell’s principle of empowerment is an investment in the leadership potential of team members. This investment is necessary in sustaining productive organizations.
Barak Obama has been an iconic leader in this nation for quite a while, even before he became President of the United States. Using his experiences from his childhood he motivated himself through college and Harvard Law School. After graduating from Harvard law, he proceeded in a career as a civil rights lawyer. He soon became a leader figure in the community, setting the stage for his chance to run for senator of Illinois. These steps soon lead up to him eventually becoming the President of the United States. During his stretch in leadership Barak incorporated many different types of leadership skills that he tailored to fit the needs of the greater good. From definitions in the textbook, Leadership Theory and Practice Seventh Edition, Barak exhibits examples of Transformational leadership, Path-Goal Theory (Supportive leadership), Adaptive leadership and Authentic leaderships.