A Famous Leader
Power Point Presentation by
AMS 590-Operations Leadership
December 5th, 2013
A little background
Born in Harlem, NY in April of 1937.
Raised by immigrant parents in Bronx.
BS in Geology 1958 from City College of NY
MBA in 1971 from George Washington Uni.
“You will find an open style, you will find me bouncing in, you
will find me wanting to talk to desk officers”
–Colin Powell (Harari, p.38, 2002)
Colin Powell’s reputation for being informed by those at the ground
level is one of the more admirable traits of his leadership style.
While most likely derived from his military background this same
approach can be used in all avenues of life.
Rising through the Ranks
ROTC during undergrad years (1954-58)
2nd Lieutenant 1958
1962 Military Advisor in Vietnam
Promoted to Major (1966)
Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel (1969)
Full Colonel (1973)
Brigade General (1978)
Lieutenant General (1986)
4 Star General (1989)
1st ARVN Division Headquarters - Advisor
Fort Benning – Infantry Trainer
South Korea – Commander 1st Battalion
101st Airborne – Lead Division Officer
Fort Carson - Asst. Division Commander
Powell’s Five Principles on
Maintain a real, no b.s. open-door policy.
Foster a noisy system.
Use every means to encourage communication, never
let hierarchy get in the way.
Use technology to improve communication
Treat turf wars as the enemy of communication.
“I am what I am. If that sometimes puts me at odds with others,
then well, fine.” –Colin Powell (Harari, p.103, 2002)
The first and primary task to be sought out by any leader is achievement
(Powell, 2012). Achievement oriented decisions are what worked for
him in five very different White House administrations.
Leading through Changes
Consistent Achievement creates
Working with Presidential
Nixon: White House Fellow in
the Office of Management and Budget
Carter: Senior Assistant to deputy
secretary of defense.
Reagan: Senior Military Assistant
G.H.W. Bush: Chairman of Joint Chiefs
Clinton: Chairman of Joint Chiefs
G.W. Bush: Secretary of State
Powell’s Four Principles on
Challenge the pros to get better solutions.
Emphasize dignity, respect, and honor while
Build a setting in which all feel free to speak out.
“Leadership will always require people who are able to organize
the effort of (others) to accomplish the objectives that flow from
the vision” –Colin Powell (Harari, p.126, 2002)
These words are a reflection of the style approach in which Colin Powell
leads. His intent is that a leader should understand that it takes all
people involved to achieve goals and that the ability to focus them is the
core of leadership.
Powell’s Principles on
Count on people more than plans or structures.
Assume that people are competent, and that
every job counts, until proven otherwise.
Spend at least 50% of your time on people.
View people as partners, regardless of their
place in hierarchy.
Become a servant leader. Work for your
Servant leaders put their people’s needs before
their own (Northouse, 2013).
Can have a lasting positive effect
Decisions are grounded in ethics
Colin Powell’s perception on leaders is that they
are nothing without their followers (Powell,
Once took 20 minutes just to say thank you to State
employees at Israeli airport.
Historically known to push hard for employee training
& management development.
Powell Points on Picking People
Capacity to anticipate
Drive to get things done
Powell’s Leadership Belief
“The leader sets an example. Whether in the
Army or in civilian life, the other people in
the organization that their cue from the
leader—not from what the leader says but
from what the leader does”
–Colin Powel (Harari, p.249, 2002).
What’s in a
Colin Powell is known for not placing a lot
of value on fancy titles. There are plenty
of non-leaders that may be listed higher
up on an organizational chart but they
usually have little to no influence on others
around them (Powell, 2012).
Just a few awards for
1st Purple Heart – Injured in Vietnam War
2nd Purple Heart – Pulled 2 people from
Presidential Citizens Medal
National Defense Service Medal
Presidential Metal of Freedom (1991, 93)
Strive for Balance (Work, Home, Family)
Have fun in your command
Don’t clock hours for hours’ sake (take earned
Make it a priority to create a balanced, fun
environment for others (work hard, play hard)
Why Colin Powell?
Colin Powell rose up from a modest living to
become one of the world’s most recognized
American leader. His consistent actions were
always in line with his words. This type of
approach not only earned him many awards and
recognitions but it has lasted through many
Whitehouse administrations. He is arguably the
best living example of leadership in America.
“Being responsible sometimes means pissing people off”
–Colin Powell (Harari, p.30, 2002)
Harai, O. (2002). The Leadership Secrets of Colin Powell. New York, NY: McGraw-Hil
Northouse, P. G. (2013). Leadership: Theory and practice (6th ed.). Thousand Oaks, CA:
SAGE Publications, Inc
Powell, C., Persico, J. (1995). My American Journey. New York, NY: Random House
Powell, C., Kotzen, T. (2012). It worked for me: In life and leadership. NY: Harper.