Introduction and Thesis
Over the years, military leadership has been cultured and defined through civil wars, revolutions, and conflict, and it requires individuals that can overcome various hurdles to perform their jobs effectively. The responsibility of a leader and the number of people that are under them rises with their position or rank. One of the renowned military leaders is Colin Powell, who became the first African American to serve as Secretary of State from 2001 to 2005. Moreover, before this, he was and remains the only African American to serve as the Joint Chief. Colin Powell also served in the United States Army as a professional soldier for thirty-five years, where he held several positions as a commander and progressed to become the Army General (Powell Doctrine, 2013). His significant accomplishments came when he was a Commander of the Allied Forces during the Gulf war that occurred from August 1990 to February 1991. Another achievement is his incorporation of the “Powell Doctrine” that altered the philosophy of American warfare by applying significant force to maximize success while minimizing casualties (Powell Doctrine, 2013). Throughout his leadership, Colin Powell demonstrated admirable personality traits and characteristics and traits such as persuasiveness, bravery, sympathy, and democracy, which made him admirable. Furthermore, he applied various leadership styles for his military strategies. Therefore, this paper provides an analysis of the personality qualities, military strategy, and leadership methods that Colin Powel used throughout his leadership.
When recruiting people, the main factors that Powell considered were intelligence, capacity to anticipate, judgment, loyalty, and integrity. Since a recruiter lacks a record of the past performance of a candidate, it is essential to assess their life journey and personal achievements. Powell emphasized considering young women and men that were high school graduates since they had better skills than non-graduates and could be easily trained for military purposes. Moreover, based on his argument, such individuals demonstrate resilience since they did not quit; hence, they can move up the military ladder. He expected the best results from training and working with such individuals who would add value to the military in the country. They would also be the easiest to train and culture in the anticipated code of military conduct. Colin also emphasized on the need to use performance as the best indicator of the capabilities of an individual since this is a crucial determinant of whether an individual would be promoted to a higher rank (Schawbel, 2012). Consequently, he successfully worked with his followers to perform at the expected level of effectiveness.
One of the challenges that Colin Powell faced was between 1989 and 1991. After building forces and investing funds in equipment and deployment of the American troops to stop fighting against the Soviet Union, the enemy withdrew, resulting in the need for him to make an effective decision on the way forward. He decided to develop a new financial plan and strategy that would lead to the restructuring of the military. However, this posed the risk of whether the proposal would be accepted by Congress members, including members of the military (Hurst, 2013). Therefore, the basis of Colin Powell for risks that may result in restructuring is that they should be designed to support friends and give enemies something to attack. His military tactics were considerably different from those that leaders before him had applied and he always faced the risk of a failure to gain political support. He commanded the Army Forces Command highest military position, which was a risky place, but effectively navigated through (Colin Powell, 2009). As an effective leader, he was never afraid of taking the risk to lead the country in what he believed was the right direction.
- Powell Doctrine
The military leader developed the “Powell Doctrine” as chief military strategist. The Doctrine focused on the use of overwhelming force aimed at maximizing success and minimizing casualties (Collin Powell, 2009). Based on the Powell doctrine, military action can only be taken once a list of questions has been answered affirmatively. Additionally, it emphasizes the decisiveness of the U.S. statecraft, where military force should be applied to serve vital national interests while weighing the costs and benefits. During his tenure as a leader, Colin recommended the significance of policymakers having realistic, clear, and achievable political goals with a clearly defined exit strategy (Powell Doctrine, 2013). The leader would always take the time to evaluate his options before strategizing, which resulted to effective strategies and tactics for use in the American military.
One of the significant aspects of success for Colin Powell is his ability to find a balance between the requirements of the military forces and the budget that was available by the American government. The leader understood the need to engage in warfare that did not entail complete exploitation of the country’s resources. He understood that the country had limited resources when engaging in military battles (Harari 2002). Moreover, by being aware of his resource limitations and the interagency process, he was able to come up with practical approaches to minimizing cost while maximizing output. Moreover, he maintained a network of associates that were essential human resources that contributed to his goals (Harari, 2002). Consequently, Powell led the country into some of the least resource-extensive battles and, at the same time, some of the most successful.
Decision-making in leadership determines the best outcome in any military situation and in most cases the process requires immediate decisions under pressure. For example, a leader is confronted with an adversary who might not give him enough time to decide and act. Therefore, decisiveness determines the difference between a good and an ineffective leader. Collin Powell was effective in decision-making under military pressure (Dauenhauer, 2003). Colin Powell applied the 40/70 rule in making decisions where each of his choices was based on various factors. He would consider all the forces, internal and external that would affect his course of action before making the final decision. His options were dependent on the amount of information needed. If an individual has only 40% of the details, they may not make an informed decision, and if they wait to have 70%, they risk becoming indecisive and overwhelmed. For instance, Powell often recommended tactical defense while withholding a counterattack to ensure that there was more information concerning the position and strength of the enemy. He preferred gathering details over quick offensive action in most of his assignments (Hurst, 2013). Moreover, Colin demonstrated his decisiveness and bravery when he rescued Major General Charles Gettys, his aid, and chief of staff after the helicopter crashed through his extensive knowledge of the military. He also showcased a unique ability to extract and assess voluminous information and make sound decisions. As a result, he would lead the country in some of the most effective and less costly battles in the history of America.
Situational leadership is based on the selection of the appropriate leadership style based on the people, their competency, and maturity. According to situational leadership model, no leadership style fits all situations (Thompson & Vecchio, 2009). Therefore, leaders consider the nature of their situation to apply the most effective leadership depending on immediate needs. Colin illustrated situational leadership style through coaching, directing, supporting, and delegating. He defined tasks and supervised them closely, focused on communication while promoting feedback and ideas from his team, and allowed members to have more control in the decision-making process. Furthermore, Colin supported his subordinates by playing an active role in various circumstances through decision-making and problem-solving (Powell Doctrine, 2013). He also led his followers based on the demands of the current situation and challenge, which increased his chances of succeeding in battles. Clearly, he recognized the fact that battles are different and require unique approaches, strategies, and tactics. Therefore, throughout his leadership, he did not hold a single style but adapted based on the conditions. The ability to apply situational leadership was influential in his success as a leader.
Autocracy is characterized by individual control over choices while receiving minimal input from team members and is based on personal judgments and ideas. Although it is not the most effective leadership style, it is usually necessary in some situations, especially when the leader desires to get the most out of a situation without engaging his followers (Holzer, 2014). Despite Powell encouraging feedback and constant communication with soldiers, he confronted people and assessed the performance of his subordinates while making vital decisions for the military. He worked on his own when deciding strategically and only came out open after her considered all his options and came up with the best decision. However, Powell was against bureaucratic leadership, where he would avoid controlling each choice of the team (Schawbel, 2012). He would apply this in instances of great urgency, where time was critical by setting precise tasks and expectations. He used the style whenever it was necessary and he needed to decide without undue pressure to lead the country towards success. By and large, the leadership style proven effective in making him a great military leader in the country.
Participative leadership is one of the most effective styles in leading in all situations due to the engagement of followers in making decisions. While participative leadership can slow down the decision-making process, it is useful in encouraging creative solutions and input from subordinates. The leader works with followers to collect their views and input before making critical decisions that affect their work (Balamohandas & Sharma, 2012). Powell ensured that he was available and accessible to other soldiers and that he listened to them. Further, he embraced the diversity of his team and viewed their differences in perspective as an asset. Colin enjoyed sustained success by building productive working relationships with the people around him, learning, and creating networks that became a significant resource. His approach to leadership proved the need to focus on the human side of any organization or agency to motivate them to succeed. During the second Bush administration, despite being surrounded by ideological rivals, he managed to endure a full term as the secretary of state. His success was informed by the support of the people his leadership inspired due to his use of participative leadership. Thus, while he had differences in opinions with others, when making important decisions, Powell managed to include them in the decision-making process and maintained flexibility (Harari, 2002). Through participative leadership, he gained respect and achieved his objectives.
Also known as laissez-faire, delegative leadership involves allowing group members to make decisions, and it helps in empowering subordinates. The leadership style believes in the ability of every member of the team to lead. According to the model, the leader does not reserve undue authority, which helps to develop followers into leaders who can take chance when situation demands (Peruzzotti, 2014). Colin Powell prioritized trust and ensured that his team would get credit for the tasks that they performed. Although his forces succeeded because of his leadership, he never took all the credit for the same and ensured that others were recognized for their input. Moreover, he emphasized on creating a supportive structure of followers by applying democracy, which would help them to develop as leaders in the American military and beyond. Powell thrived by serving selflessly and training the subordinates and being prepared to take risks with them. He focused on training, especially for the young military personnel to build a more effective army to fight for the country. Additionally, his leadership was rooted in providing resources to his followers to enable them to accomplish their responsibilities as required (Hurst, 2013). Consequently, Powell exercised delegative leadership by dividing tasks, providing the essential tools and resources and guiding his subordinates where necessary. As a result, he could capitalize on the available resources, which was instrumental to his success in battles.
Colin Powell was passionate and committed to America, and these influenced each of the decisions he made concerning the military and his country. Since the beginning of his career as a military leader in the country, he had a vision, which would make the nation strong in all types of battles. Through his courage to fulfill his vision and developing a sense of purpose, he was able to defeat the adversities that he faced. He successfully build a strong team of military personnel who would support and help him to achieve his vision for the country. Additionally, he was passionate about matters affecting the military and championed for the implementation of specific laws associated with soldiers. As a result, he would always seek government support to implement many of the strategies he devised in the attempt to build the strong military, For example, he managed to negotiate significant interagency issues, such as the Base Force plan (Harari, 2002). He blended aspects such as his experience and resources to ensure the implementation of the program. Due to his passion for the U.S., he used political methods to accomplish an unselfish and non-partisan goal, which was to improve national security (Schawbel, 2012). Colin used a systematic approach to his campaign and managed to win over the service chiefs and other fundamental players within the military. He made effective decisions and sought approval of the government convincingly due to his passion for the nation and military success.
- Winning Attitude
Despite facing various setbacks, Powell applied a winning attitude. Leading the military in the United States can be a very challenging task, especially during a time of difficult wars, such as on terror. Regardless, Powell maintained a positive attitude that led him to success in many battles on behalf of his nation (Harari, 2002). Through this, the followers can also strive to ensure that the objectives that had been developed are achieved regardless of the challenges that they face. Additionally, Powel argued that if one approach was not working, leaders must use another one to ensure that they accomplish their mission. Therefore, he was always prepared to another alternative course of action if one was ineffective and he could readily change to win. Consequently, to achieve this, they must ensure that followers are aware of the purpose of the leadership and that standards are set and met by everyone (Powell Doctrine, 2013). Therefore, through perceptual optimism and striving to be excellent, Powell succeeded and won in most of his duties.
The American military and government devote substantial resources to train better leaders that uphold ethical standards. During his tenure, Colin Powell embodied professional and personal integrity that cemented his reputation and fortified his followers. He made the decisions not for personal gain as he emphasizes increased staffing, training, and accountability to improve the country’s military capability. Powell adhered to a code of ethical and moral principles based on selflessness and is a respected war hero and leader. Despite being sidelined from the White House decision-making about the Iraq War, he was never part of any dishonest scandal or issues that would demonstrate he championed his self-interests (Harari, 2002). He recognized that the most effective way for America to won all military issues was to lead in an honest manner. His high level of integrity earned him the title of one of the most respected leaders in the history of America (Harari, 2002). He also acknowledged the need to share credit and create a sense of worth among his followers. Therefore, Powell led without any legal infractions and violations in his military and political leadership.
Powell applied various techniques to encourage group debate and to arrive at the best solution to an issue. He made an effort to defend and define rational objectives while challenging outdated modes of thinking among bother his subordinates and other leaders. Throughout his leadership, Powell became a champion of new projects and made changes that restructured and improved the military (Hurst, 2013). For instance, he insisted on the importance of avoiding war by applying diplomatic, economic, political, and financial methods. Powell as a great debater evaluated all the sides of a situation and potential solutions to come up with the most effective and persuade others to support what he believed to be the best course of action. He used structure, strengths, and evidence when making a case for or against a war, such as the war in Iraq. He presented an articulated case concerning the war in a speech on February 5, 2003 (Zarefsky, 2007). Therefore, the leader would convince others to support a course of action, which he believed to be the best for the country.
While many leaders have played a key role in the military history of the United States, some have been more effective than others in using their leadership styles and qualities. One such leader is Powell, whose ideologies and leadership methods applied contributed to his success and reputation as a war hero in America and beyond. He used an inclusionary and dynamic style and was able to appeal to opposing parties since he supported the objectives of the American government in facilitating international and domestic peace. Further, Colin advocated for structural changes in the military by championing the implementation of various laws, was passionate, decisive, and demonstrated high levels of integrity. Therefore, he appealed to many people and was perceived as a respected military leader. Modern leaders can learn important lessons from Powell’s leadership to apply them in fighting modern military battles and other crisis affecting their countries because he provided a model of effective leadership.
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