Colin Powell was a man who started off from humble beginnings living with his parents who had migrated from Jamaica to Harlem New York. Powell continued to work his way up graduating from school and eventual going through the Army. Through the years he was promoted and eventually was appointed by George H.W. Bush to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. “This post is the highest military position in the Department of Defense, and Powell was the first African-American officer to receive that distinction” (Biography.com, n.d.). Although this is a great feat by itself. The title of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff does not make you an automatic leader.
Instead it is the combined experiences through life that bring you to become a leader. Powell’s journey through his life explain what psychologists refer to as the skills model. This model is one way psychologists explain what makes a leader. The skills model looks not only at the leader and the certain skills that leader is born with but the environment around the leader. The model also takes into account that people can learn and get better. It is not like other theories that state a person was born with a particular skill and you either have those skills or not.
Powell did not grow up rich or even really motivated. According to himself though Powell states “The only reason I graduated was that they included all the A’s I got in ROTC for four years into my overall GPA. It brought me up to just over 2.0 and they said, ‘Good enough for government work, give him to the Army, we’ll never see him again’” (Powell, 2015). Without the ROTC Powell would not have even been able to graduate from college. Instead of being born with greatness he learned throughout his career.
As Powell went through out his military career he achieved higher ranks as well as medals along the way. In fact according to Biography.com “In all, Powell has received eleven military decorations, including the Legion of Merit” (Biography.com). These medals and ranks signify, every demanding life experience and life lesson that Powell has been through. The medals and rank serve the same as diplomas and certificates that professions such as doctors and lawyers place on their walls. They show that Powell has a large amount of power and experience that he has gained over the years. Through these experiences it formed him into the leader that he is today. Not just a man who held the title of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff but a leader who learned how to lead through a vast amount of life experience.
Biography.com (n.d.). Colin Powell. Retrieved from http://www.biography.com/people/colin-powell-9445708
Powell, C. (2015, May). Learn to Lead. Speech presented at Rice University graduation, Houston, TX.