Leadership: People to Admire - Sample Essay
Defined by many, attained by few, leadership is an integral part of any organization. The public sector has many of these heroes, who exhibit qualities defined as effective leadership. The many military leaders of the United States have helped define what Americans see as leadership. Colin Powell and George C. Marshall are two such leaders who have coined ideas and demonstrated what it takes to be a leader. Leaders possess the consistent ability to influence people, to motivate them to sense a common purpose and to fulfill the functions necessary for group action. People who lead have power over others.
There are five major bases of power: (1) expert power, embodying knowledge and power; (2) referent power, which is admiration and having others strive for that leader’s support; (3) reward power, which is based on the leader’s knack to decide rewards for the follower; (4) legitimate power, arising from a status within the institute; (5) coercive power, which is based on the follower’s fear that not fulfilling the leader’s wishes will lead to reprimand. There is subsequent research that expert and referent power are more likely to encourage subordinate performance and satisfaction(Shafritz and Russell 328-9).
While French and Raven can define types of power, what traits transcribe the people that wield the power? Good leaders are effective communicators, empathetic, energetic; possess sound-judgment, consistent, and autonomous. These characteristics, along with ways that one leads, can show how people become effective leaders. Democratic leaders who excise their leadership position to the level of working with people such as Secretary of State Colin Powell brings fourth an idea of “servant leadership. ” Born in Harlem in 1937, Colin Powell is the son of Jamaican immigrants.
Growing up in a rough area, Powell was educated in the public school system and went on to City College of New York. He spent his formative years in a scene that is not essentially favorable to developing leadership skills in a community environment. To endure and prosper, Powell had to institute goals and set a vision for himself that transcended his environment-while not ignoring its veiled benefits. Powell’s early focus was the beginning of a remarkable leadership career that continues to benefit all Americans today.
After completing the school’s ROTC program and graduating from CCNY in 1958, Colin Powell was commissioned an Army second lieutenant. When he retired from the military 35 years later, he had held diverse leadership positions and had risen to the rank of 4-star General, eventually becoming the 12th Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest position in the Defense Department (Holberton). Colin Powell stands out from his peers as being one of the few individuals who can traverse political party lines and lead various individuals and organizations.
Why is Colin Powell a good leader? “Maybe it is his gifted ability to speak. Perhaps it is his straightforward, charismatic approach. More than likely, it is both these traits and his personal core values that resonate with so many of us” (Holberton). Powell’s intellect, endurance and devoted practice of taking accountability for his actions make him a good leader. Colin Powell has always been true to his values and to the higher order of his mission. His focus as a military officer was winning battles and wars and supporting the agenda of the United States.
Because he was able to work successfully with many individuals, regardless of their policy, he became a trusted advisor to many in both political parties. This well-merited respect has aided him in attaining his present position as Secretary of State, in which he helps shape policy rather than simply following it. “Preserving Dodona Manor [Marshall’s home] as a memorial to this outstanding soldier and statesman will preserve General Marshall’s legacy for generations to come. ” Colin Powell had this to say about one of his predecessors, George C. Marshall.
Perhaps General Marshall’s most prominent trait as a leader was inspirational motivation. He had a vision and encouraged others to follow. Marshall’s father owned a flourishing coal company in Pennsylvania, but the boy, choosing to become a soldier, enrolled at the Virginia Military Institute from which he graduated in 1901 as senior first captain of the Corps of Cadets. After serving in posts in the Philippines and the United States, Marshall graduated with honors from the Infantry-Cavalry School at Fort Leavenworth in 1907 and from the Army Staff College in 1908.
The young officer distinguished himself in a variety of posts in the coming years, earning an appointment to the General Staff in World War I and acting as aide-de-camp to General Pershing, and holding many high ranking positions in and around the military. In July 1938, Marshall accepted a position with the General Staff in Washington, D. C. , and in September 1939, President Roosevelt named Marshall chief of staff, with the rank of general. He became General of the Army in 1944, the year in which Congress created the five-star rank (Haberman).
In his position as chief of staff, Marshall urged military readiness previous to the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941, and later became accountable for the building, supplying, and, in part, the deploying of over eight million soldiers. From 1941, he was a member of the policy commission that oversaw the atomic studies engaged in by American and British scientists. With the war over, Marshall resigned in November 1945 (Haberman). Marshall did not resign from public service; when his military service ended, he took up a diplomatic livelihood.
During his diplomatic career, he participated in many conferences, one being the conference on the Atlantic Charter. In late 1945 and in 1946, he represented President Truman on a special mission to a China torn by civil war; in January 1947, he accepted the Cabinet position of secretary of state, holding it for two years. In the spring of 1947, he outlined his most famous accomplishment in a speech at Harvard University the plan of economic aid which history has named the Marshall Plan (Haberman).
The Marshall Plan was his personal effort to extend the helping hand to restore a then distraught Europe, which led to the $16. 2 billion Economic Recovery Program. His plan changed the course of history for humankind. It was the first time in history that the conquerors rebuilt the defeated. The Marshall Plan became the basis for the current alliance of the European Union (Kingsbury-Smith Keesee). For one year during the Korean War, General Marshall was secretary of defense, a civilian post in the U. S. Cabinet.
Having resigned from this post in September 1951, he retired from public service. Soldier, Citizen and Statesman Marshall received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1953 for his grand humanitarian efforts and numerous contributions to world peace and understanding (Haberman). In war he was as wise and understanding in counsel as he was resolute in action. In peace, he was the architect who planned the restoration of our battered European economy and, at the same time labored tirelessly to established a system of Western defense.
He has always fought victoriously against defeatism, discouragement, and disillusion. Succeeding generations must not be allowed to forget his achievements and his example. Sir Winston Churchill [On Marshall and his Leadership] With these two leaders in mind, with their different traits attributing to their leadership, one could see there are many qualities that make a leader. Marshall’s vision exhibiting transformational leadership and Powell’s charisma that embodies a transactional approach are only two of many such qualities that define a leader.
Leaders are everywhere in everyday life, these are only two prominent figures that exemplify what situational and other factors and characteristics that contribute to their ability to lead.
Holberton ,Phil. “Profile of a Leader: Colin Powell. ” Speaking of Leadership(r). Vol. 2, No. 8. (April 9, 2002) 1 pp. On-line. Internet. October 10, 2004. Available FTP:http://www. holberton. com/index. html Kingsbury-Smith Keesee, Diana. “George C. Marshall. ” Internet. October 10, 2004:n. pag. On-line. Available WWW: http://www. bnt. com/marshall/incenter. html.