Profile of a Leader: Colin Powell Essay

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“It’s not where you start in life, it’s where you end up and all the places you went in between.”
(General Colin Powell) Excellence: is the ultimate goal of every leader. Leaders are not born with it, rather they must build it, achieve it. These leaders are the building blocks of every organization. General Colin Powell is the embodiment of an American leader. After years of military excellence, he continued his career on a political level, retiring after 35 years of servant leadership. In his retirement, General Powell wrote his autobiography My American Journey. This narrative outlines his life achievements and failures. In this paper, General Colin Powell will be defined in the context of achieving excellence, starting with how he was
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And his example spurred the other boys to admit their guilt.” This act of honesty saved him, Powell writes, “My parents beamed. From juvenile delinquent, I had been catapulted to hero. Something from that boyhood experience, the rewards of honesty, hit home and stayed.” (Vinnedge 2009) This was his first step in developing the honorable character that all strong leaders must have. The lesson of honesty, he learned that day, has helped Powell many times. The special kind of courage it takes to stand up and face your faults, develops with wisdom. This was different from the courage Powell displayed in his first and second tours in Vietnam. After he commissioned as an officer, from the ROTC program, he was sent to South Vietnam, as a military advisor. While on patrol, he was wounded by stepping on a punji stake- a sharpened bamboo stake, typically tipped with poison, set in a camouflaged hole in the ground as a means of defense. (KHAN 2000) The large infection made it difficult for him to walk, and caused his first tour to be shortened. During his second tour he was decorated for bravery after he survived a helicopter crash, and single-handedly rescued three others, from the burning wreckage. (Powell 138-140) The experiences in Vietnam affected him profoundly, especially the My Lai Massacre which he was charged with investigating. He says, “The involvement of so many unprepared officers and noncoms led to breakdown in morale, discipline, and professional

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