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Colin Luther Powell is a statesman in the United States of America. He is a retired general of the United States Army. Colin Powell also served as a professional soldier in the United States Army for a period of thirty-five years. He held various positions as a commander and gradually achieved the top position of Army General.

Between 1962 and 1963, Colin Powell served as a military adviser to the South Vietnamese army during the Vietnam War between the United States of America and North Vietnam. Colin Powell also served as a Fellowship to the White House between 1972 and 1973. Colin Powell was appointed as a Fellowship to the White House by President Richard Nixon.

Colin Powell’s Biography

Colin Powell was born in New York City on April 5, 1937.  It is believed that his parents were immigrants from Jamaica. He is the second born child and only son of Mr. Luther Powell and Mrs. Maud Arial (Powell, 2007). Colin Powell attended the Morris High School in the Bronx. In 1958, Colin Powell graduated from the City College of New York with a Bachelor of Science degree specializing in geology and later earned a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of George Washington.

Colin Powell served as a commander to the armed forces in South Korea, West Germany, and the United States of America. In late 1987, President Ronald Reagan of the United States appointed him as an assistant to the president. In 1989, Colin Powell was appointed by President George H. W. Bush as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a position which he held from 1989 to 1993.

From 2001 to 2005, Colin Powell served as the U.S. Secretary of State under President George W. Bush. It is believed that Collin Powell was the first African American to serve as the Secretary of State. In addition, he also served as the National Security Adviser between 1987 and 1989. DeYoung suggests that Colin Powell was the first African America to serve as the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Up to date, no other African American has ever served in that position (2006).

Personality Traits and Characteristics

General Colin Powell was a great leader in the United States Army as well as in other state positions that he held as a civil servant. He possessed various admirable personality traits and characteristics that made him a great leader.

General Colin Powell Is a Democratic Leader

First and foremost, Colin Powell was a democratic leader. A democratic leader is a person, who allows other people to freely express their views and opinions towards finding a solution to a particular problem or challenge. During his leadership as the General of the U.S. Army, Colin Powell allowed his juniors to freely express their views on how the Gulf War would be implemented. Colin Powell carefully listened to the opinions of his colleagues.

Additionally, during the invasion of Iraq by the United States of America, Colin Powell was moderate on invading Iraq. The decisions that he made were well calculated. This indicates that Colin Powell was a shrewd leader who never rushed to make decisions. In addition, Colin Powell rarely supported the intervention of the military in solving both national and international crises. He advocated for diplomatic ways of solving problems.

General Colin Powell Is a Sympathetic Leader

Secondly, Colin Powell is also a sympathetic leader. Harrell (2011) asserts that due to his sympathy, Colin Powell realized the need to help the numerous children who were suffering and required assistance. His sympathy and humane nature made him and his wife start the American Promise. The American Promise is a non-governmental organization that benefits young children who are destitute.

These needy children come from various societies and receive both financial and material support from the American Promise. Colin Powell founded the organization so that he could get a chance to help children from poor families. This also indicates Colin Powell’s concern for the society and welfare of others.

General Colin Powell Is a Hardworking Leader

Thirdly, Colin Powell was a hardworking leader who never gave up easily. For example, when the United States of America got involved in the Iraq war, numerous pressures built on Colin Powell to resign. However, he did not resign immediately. Instead, he managed to explain and convince the international community of the essence of invading Iraq. He alleged that Iraq had a manufacturing plant that produced nuclear weapons.

General Colin Powell Is a Brave Leader

Fourthly, Strazzabosco (2004) describes Colin Powell as a brave leader, for example, during the Vietnam War, he rescued Major General Charles Gettys and several other soldiers from a helicopter that was burning with soldiers inside, including Colin Powell, after it got in a crash. Despite his minor injuries, Colin Powell still managed to rescue his fellow soldiers.

General Colin Powell Is a Persuasive Leader

Fifthly, Collin Powell was a persuasive leader. Through his persuasive abilities, he was able to influence President George W. Bush to decide against the invasion of Iraq after the September eleventh attacks. According to Colin Powell, the intention to invade Iraq would have been presented before the United Nations, rather than being undertaken by the United States of America unilaterally.

General Colin Powell Is a Trustworthy Leader

Collin Powell was also a trustworthy leader. He was trusted by his juniors. Additionally, he also believed that his colleagues and subordinate soldiers were the best people to trust and work with. This is exhibited by his experience during the Vietnam War when he asserted that the soldiers in the field had adequate and more reliable information than their leaders back in the United States.

Colin Powell also believed in effective communication within an organization between the leader and the people whom he or she leads. For instance, he suggested that when the soldiers stop bringing problems to you as their leader, then you would have stopped leading them.

This philosophy symbolized the importance of good channels of communication between a leader and his followers. A good channel of communication is thus important for exchanging information between the leader and the people, whom he leads. Furthermore, an open channel of communication between a leader and his followers also facilitates the inflow and outflow of ideas and suggestions within the organization.

This would improve the participation of all members of an organization in decision-making processes. Colin Powell also advocated for the availability of a leader to his servants. According to Powell, leaders must be accessible to their followers. The accessibility of the leader also enhances trust between the leader and the people he or she leads.

Moreover, Colin Powell was a leader of high integrity and honesty. He insisted that it would be better to have untidy truth than smooth or soothing lies. This implies that a leader should always be honest in his or her dealings and should never make a wrong decision or act in a dishonest manner so as to please his followers. It is better for a leader to tell an ugly or hurting truth than to deceive so as to entertain or satisfy the selfish wants and interests of his followers.

Harari puts forward other important leadership traits of Colin Powell that are perseverance and endurance (2008). Powell believed that he could not slay the dragon every day. This implies that a leader may not win or succeed in everything that he endeavors. At times, he will be defeated, and that does not imply that he has failed.

Therefore, a person must try again and again and never lose hope, despite the hardships he may encounter in his attempts to achieve the target goals and objectives. Colin Powell was also a selfless leader, who never used threats to make people do what he needed. Harari postulates that Colin Powell had no interest in intimidating his people or fellow colleagues. Harari further argues that Colin Powell was a polite person (2008).

The Courageous and Charismatic Leader

Indeed Colin Powell was a courageous and charismatic leader. He was never afraid to face challenges, an example of which is the situation when he was sent to Vietnam to act as a military adviser to the American Division during the Vietnam War. Colin Powell did not care too much about the negative views or comments of other people. He would do whatever he thought was beneficial to the military regardless of rebukes and condemnations from his oppositions. He was determined in his actions.

For example, Colin Powell was once quoted saying that to be a responsible leader, an individual must irritate some people. As his view states, a good leader should be able to challenge the status quo within the organization. Colin Powell’s ability to effectively manage challenges was based on his skill to pay adequate attention to details. Colin Powell believed that it was important for him to have a comprehensive understanding of the operational details of military activities so that he would be able to effectively challenge military actions and processes.

Moreover, Colin Powell also believed that a good leader is a person, who is able to create a conducive environment where people get pleasure from both authority and responsibility. Good leadership entails taking responsibility for the welfare of others. Accordingly, some people will get angry at the leader’s actions and decisions. Hence, a good leader is one who can take responsibility and be held accountable for his or her actions.

Colin Powell also advocated for the deployment of the most qualified persons in the military. He believed that people are the best assets of an organization and thus should be picked selectively. Colin Powell effectively managed to change his personality and leadership style in accordance with the people he was leading. He was a flexible man.  He exhibited different personality traits while dealing with different people so that he could best fit in.

Colin Powell also had a high need for achievement. This high need to achieve acted as his intrinsic motivating factor. Colin Powell was neither discouraged by the challenges he faced, nor with anything that would prevent him from achieving his endeavors and goals. Through his hard work, commitment, and determination, Colin Powell was able to accomplish numerous achievements. This earned him numerous awards within the military.

Colin Powell was a responsible leader. He took full responsibility for his actions and decisions. He also treated everybody equally, regardless of their different opinions or contributions. Colin Powell was a loyal leader, too. He served under various United States presidents, such as Richard Nixon and George W. Bush. At times, he would hold conflicting views and opinions that are different from those of his bosses, but would again agree with them.

For example, Colin Powell strongly disagreed with President George W. Bush over the invasion of Iraq without the involvement of the international community. However, they later agreed on the issue. Baldoni asserts that Colin Powell effectively used his oratorical skills to persuade the international community during the meeting held by the United Nations to espouse and accede to the invasion of Iraq by the United States of America (2010). Despite numerous criticisms and public scrutiny, Colin Powell was able to hold on to his views.

During his tour to Vietnam, Colin Powell managed to keep his equanimity and self-control. He further demonstrated his ability to make sound and unbiased judgments when rescued soldiers from the United States from allegations and accusations of involvement in the Vietnam massacre.

General Colin Powell Is a Motivational Leader

Colin Powell is also a motivational leader. He founded the American Promise Alliance, a non-governmental organization in which he motivates youths to realize their full potentials. Additionally, he is a flexible leader, who is capable of changing his decision and actions so as to harmoniously blend into the dynamic world. For example, Colin Powell said that a real leader is one who gets over a given challenge. This implies the ability of a leader to change or adapt in accordance with the changing environment.

According to Stefanick and the Army War College, Colin Powell showed his selfless character when he saved his colleagues from the burning helicopter after they involved in a crash (2009). He was concerned not only about his life and safety but also about the lives of his fellow soldiers. This also showed his humane nature.

Finally, Clarke suggests that the leadership styles of General Colin Powell were practical and mission-based (2005). Colin Powell based his leadership on the people whom he served. This eventually translated into outstanding performance and excellent achievement of target results, goals, and objectives.


In conclusion, it is necessary to assert that General Colin Powell had admirable and splendid personality traits and characters that enabled him to become a good leader. Through his effective leadership styles, Colin Powell was able to serve in various positions in the military. The marvelous leadership styles of Colin Powell made him rise from a mere Cadet Colonel in the Reserve Officers Training Corp through various ranks in the military to become the chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff. This is the most prestigious position in the armed forces.

Additionally, Colin Powell finally managed to become the U.S. secretary of state. He managed to excel in all positions that he held through good leadership and personality. Colin Powell was able to restore peace and democracy in Haiti. During his career, Colin Powell faced lots of challenges but he was able to overcome them due to determination and remaining focused on his goals. His ability to lead others is well portrayed by his climbing from low-level ranks in the military to high-status positions such as Army General and Secretary of State.

Businesspersons can learn various leadership qualities from Colin Powell; for example, they can learn that organizational resources should be well-sourced from selective suppliers. This would enable the organization to acquire only useful and needed resources. From Colin Powell’s resignation, leaders should know when they should step aside from their leadership positions, for instance, due to the increased public scrutiny or pressure.

Finally, Colin Powell stands as an example of a good leader not only to the Americans but to all people across the globe. His leadership styles can be deployed in various organizations, ranging from military to business entities. From his leadership styles, individuals can learn how to lead people in a more humanistic way and without dictatorship. Collin Powell urges those who are in power to use their authority to influence and inspire other people towards the achievement of organizational goals and objectives.

Leaders should be afraid of challenges. They should always challenge the obvious. The advancement of Colin Powell to the prestigious position of military General depicts that he was able to go along with other people. He showed great respect to the people he was working with.

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