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Colin Powell: An African American military and political leader who transcended the racial barriers of America

Dissertation
Author: Cigi Oakley
Abstract:
Although African American leaders have had to overcome many obstacles throughout history, all of the injustices and obstacles Colin Powell faced did not hinder him from becoming a successful military and political leader. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the perceptions and attitudes of African American and Caucasian business leaders to gain an understanding of how or if Colin Powell achieved a unique appeal across racial barriers. Using a purposeful sample, the voices of 5 African American and 5 Caucasian business leaders participated in a semi-structured interview process that gleaned their lived experiences, as their voices detailed their perceptions of Colin Powell. The first phase of the data analysis implemented the techniques prescribed by Moustakas' modification of the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method of analysis of phenomenological research. The participants' interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim by the researcher. The second phase involved organizing, analyzing, and synthesizing the data into clusters and emerging themes. The researcher accomplished this through the Qualitative Solutions & Research (QSR), Nvivo 8, a software program that is used to organize and analyze qualitative data. A coding process was used in Nvivo 8 that organized the data into significant statements and meaning units, resulting in the essence of the experience. As the researcher read the transcripts multiple times; themes were annotated in the margins as short phrases, ideas, reflective notes, or key concepts that occurred. The findings resulted in 16 themes that emerged from the study. The overall perception was that Colin Powell transcended racial barriers and was a leader identified not by a racial descriptor but his accomplishments in the military and politics. The implications are for leaders to choose not to be defined by their race, per say, but by achieving success, either in spite of or irrespective of racial barriers. The researcher recognizes additional research that can be expanded from this study that would add richness and more insight. Another study recommendation would be a comparison of strategies that Colin Powell and Barack Obama embraced that fostered their remarkable accomplishments and success with regard to breaking racial barriers.

TABLE OF CONTENTS Page LIST OF TABLES.............................................................................................................vi   LIST OF FIGURES..........................................................................................................vii   DEDICATION....................................................................................................................x   ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS.............................................................................................xix   VITA.................................................................................................................................xii   ABSTRACT....................................................................................................................xiiii   Chapter 1: Introduction.......................................................................................................1   Introduction.............................................................................................................1   Background.............................................................................................................3   Problem Statement..................................................................................................5   Purpose of Study.....................................................................................................7   Research Questions.................................................................................................7   Importance of the Study..........................................................................................8   Definition of Terms................................................................................................9   Assumptions of the Study.....................................................................................11   Limitations of the Study.......................................................................................12   Summary...............................................................................................................13   Chapter 2: Review of the Literature.................................................................................14   Introduction...........................................................................................................14   Models and Methods of Leadership in the 21st Century......................................14   Defining leadership.........................................................................................14   Trait approach.................................................................................................17   Style approach.................................................................................................18   Situational approach.......................................................................................20   Contingency theory.........................................................................................21   Path-Goal Theory............................................................................................23   Transformational leadership...........................................................................24   Evolution of Politics in America and the African American Race.......................27   The beginning.................................................................................................27   The right to vote..............................................................................................29   Segregation by law..........................................................................................30   The struggle for racial integration..................................................................31  

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The quest for political power..........................................................................35   Today’s political race perspective..................................................................37   Effectiveness of Mentoring...................................................................................38   Military Leadership...............................................................................................43   Army leadership..............................................................................................46   What a leader must be, know, and do.............................................................48   ROTC Military Leadership Training....................................................................53   Leadership foundation....................................................................................54   Structure vs. creativity....................................................................................55   Listening at a gut level....................................................................................55   Building a group identity................................................................................55   Learning to love details...................................................................................56   Prioritizing details...........................................................................................56   Courage in the face of danger.........................................................................56   Colin Powell.........................................................................................................57   Leadership principles......................................................................................57   Ability to forecast the future......................................................................57   Providing clear direction............................................................................58   Results-oriented approach..........................................................................58   Vision.........................................................................................................59   Ability to articulate....................................................................................59   Modesty.....................................................................................................60   Confidence.................................................................................................60   Ethnic attitudes in America.............................................................................60   The Pew research center............................................................................61   Ethnic attitudes towards Colin Powell.......................................................62   Preparation for becoming U.S. Secretary of State..........................................67   Summary of Literature Review.............................................................................68   Chapter 3: Methods and Procedures.................................................................................70   Introduction...........................................................................................................70   Research Questions and Objectives......................................................................70   Qualitative Research Design.................................................................................71   The phenomenological approach....................................................................73   Phenomenological reduction and the epoche..................................................74   Setting and Population..........................................................................................76   Description of the setting................................................................................76   Participant selection........................................................................................76   Participant Sampling.............................................................................................77   Sampling methods...........................................................................................77   Sample size.....................................................................................................78  

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Data Collection Procedures..................................................................................79   Role of the researcher.....................................................................................81   Interview protocol instrument.........................................................................82   Validation of interview questions by panel of experts...................................84   Pre-testing the Interview Protocol........................................................................88   Interview Data Collection Process........................................................................90   Analyzing and Reporting the Data........................................................................94   Protection of Human Subjects..............................................................................97   Summary.............................................................................................................100   Chapter 4: Findings.........................................................................................................102   Introduction.........................................................................................................102   Demographic Information about the Study Participants.....................................103   Description of the Participants’ Backgrounds....................................................106   Emerging Themes...............................................................................................108   Study Findings for Research Question 1............................................................110   Study Findings for Research Question 2............................................................114   Study Findings: Research Question 3.................................................................117 Understands the machine..............................................................................117 Trust and respect...........................................................................................118 Making decisions on information at hand.....................................................119 Confidence....................................................................................................120 Effective communicator................................................................................121 Study Findings: Research Question 4.................................................................122 Necessary......................................................................................................122 Mismanaged..................................................................................................124 Better but not a reality..................................................................................125 Room for Improvement................................................................................129 Issues still exists in certain parts of America................................................131 Summary.............................................................................................................133   Chapter 5: Results, Conclusion, and Recommendation..................................................134   Introduction.........................................................................................................134   Discussion for Research Question 1...................................................................136 Implications for Research Question 1..................................................................137 Discussion for Research Question 2...................................................................138 Implications for Research Question 2..................................................................139 Discussion for Research Question 3...................................................................139 Implications for Research Question 3..................................................................141 Discussion for Research Question 4...................................................................139 Implications for Research Question 4..................................................................144

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Recommendations for Practical Application.......................................................145 Recommendations for Future Study...................................................................146   REFERENCES...............................................................................................................147   APPENDIX A: Letter to Colin Powell Requesting Interview........................................157   APPENDIX B: Correspondence with Participants Solicitation Letter...........................159   APPENDIX C: Interview Protocol.................................................................................161   APPENDIX D: Letter to Panel of Experts......................................................................163   APPENDIX E: Panel of Experts Interview Question Evaluation Sheet.........................165   APPENDIX F: Background Description of Panelists.....................................................168   APPENDIX G: Researcher Bias.....................................................................................170   APPENDIX H: Informed Consent Form........................................................................171   APPENDIX I: Human Participant Protections Education for Research Completion Certificate.....................................................................................................................173   APPENDIX J: IRB Approval Letter...............................................................................174  

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LIST OF TABLES Page

Table 1. Correlation Between Research Questions and Interview Questions..................84   Table 2. Interview Questions, Concepts, and Their Literature Sources...........................85   Table 3. Phenomenological Data Analysis Method..........................................................96   Table 4. Summary of Emerging Themes........................................................................108  

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LIST OF FIGURES Page

Figure 1. Army values, “be, know, do.”..........................................................................49   Figure 2. Gender of participants in study......................................................................104   Figure 3. Age of participants in study............................................................................104   Figure 4. Political party..................................................................................................105   Figure 5. Education level...............................................................................................105  

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DEDICATION

In memory of my Mother and Father Gladys L. Davis January 28, 2008 & David Oakley November 16, 1998

This dissertation is dedicated to my parents who gave me life, encouragement, determination, and above all a loving appreciation for God. I miss you both so much and know that your spirit was with me through this endeavor. I would also like to dedicate this to my daughter, Mireille, and my three grandchildren, Ariana, Justin, and Jayden. They are, without a doubt, the most amazing and wonderful joy to my life.

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS First and foremost, I must give thanks to God for his many blessings and for giving me the strength and endurance to finish this project. As I was challenged throughout this degree process, I looked for comfort and sought the words of Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” I would like to acknowledge and express my deepest appreciation to Dr. Monica Goodale, my committee chair, for her faith, patience, knowledge, guidance, inspiration and encouragement. Dr. Goodale is truly an outstanding individual inside and out; she really understood what I was trying to accomplish and her background complemented the direction I wanted for this study. I also want to extend a heartfelt thank you to Dr. Ronald Stephens and Dr. Andrew Harvey for joining my dissertation committee. I really appreciate your collaboration, guidance and support to this life changing experience. I am also grateful to Richard Adams from IBM, a long time friend, colleague and mentor for believing in me and inspiring me to achieve my goals. I am so blessed to have known so many wonderful students in my cohort in the GSEP program. Thank you to the excellent professors and staff that contributed and supported the Organizational Leadership discipline. Thank you to the participants in this study for taking the time to voice your thoughts, perceptions and experiences with me. Most importantly, I am so appreciative to my family and friends for inspiring me when the road was rough on this amazing journey and providing me with the love and support that I needed to achieve this pinnacle in my education. Lastly, to my Uncle George for encouraging me throughout life that education makes the difference.

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VITA Education 2010 Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership Pepperdine University

1994 Master of Business Administration Pepperdine University

1983 Bachelor of Science in Computer Science University of Maryland

Professional History

2010-present Virtual Computing Technology President

2008-2010 Jeskell, Inc. Senior Client Executive

2000-2008 IBM Business Development Executive

1994-2000 Oracle Corporation Practice Director

1983-1994 IBM Solution Sales Representative

Honors & Awards

2004 IBM Outstanding Leadership Award

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ABSTRACT Although African American leaders have had to overcome many obstacles throughout history, all of the injustices and obstacles Colin Powell faced did not hinder him from becoming a successful military and political leader. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the perceptions and attitudes of African American and Caucasian business leaders to gain an understanding of how or if Colin Powell achieved a unique appeal across racial barriers. Using a purposeful sample, the voices of 5 African American and 5 Caucasian business leaders participated in a semi-structured interview process that gleaned their lived experiences, as their voices detailed their perceptions of Colin Powell. The first phase of the data analysis implemented the techniques prescribed by Moustakas’ modification of the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method of analysis of phenomenological research. The participants’ interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim by the researcher. The second phase involved organizing, analyzing, and synthesizing the data into clusters and emerging themes. The researcher accomplished this through the Qualitative Solutions & Research (QSR), Nvivo 8, a software program that is used to organize and analyze qualitative data. A coding process was used in Nvivo 8 that organized the data into significant statements and meaning units, resulting in the essence of the experience. As the researcher read the transcripts multiple times; themes were annotated in the margins as short phrases, ideas, reflective notes, or key concepts that occurred. The findings resulted in 16 themes that emerged from the study. The overall perception was that Colin Powell transcended racial barriers and was a leader identified not by a racial descriptor but his accomplishments in the military and politics. The

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implications are for leaders to choose not to be defined by their race, per say, but by achieving success, either in spite of or irrespective of racial barriers. The researcher recognizes additional research that can be expanded from this study that would add richness and more insight. Another study recommendation would be a comparison of strategies that Colin Powell and Barack Obama embraced that fostered their remarkable accomplishments and success with regard to breaking racial barriers.

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Chapter 1: Introduction Introduction The Civil Rights Act of 1964 spurred both the U.S. federal and state governments to take affirmative measures to correct the lingering effects of past discrimination against African Americans (Barker, Jones, & Tate, 1999). According to Boston (1988), “historically, discrimination was a powerful force in regimenting a disproportionate number of Blacks to the secondary sector. Today, this segmentation continues even though more overt forms of racism have subsided” (p. 48). Williams (1993) argues: we have to look at discrimination not simply as a deviation from the law in the U.S.A.; rather we must see it as part of a larger, international norm, and as consistent with a worldwide corporate culture that transcends national boundaries. (p. 118) The 1964 Civil Rights Act was a landmark attempt to protect minority rights and to improve the quality of life for African Americans and other minority groups (CongressLink, 2006). In a nationally televised address on June 6, 1963, President John F. Kennedy urged the nation to take action toward guaranteeing equal treatment of every American regardless of race. Soon after, Kennedy proposed that Congress consider civil rights legislation that would address voting rights, public accommodations, school desegregation, nondiscrimination in federally assisted programs, and more. Despite Kennedy’s assassination in November of 1963, his proposal culminated in the Civil Rights Act of 1964, signed into law by President Lyndon Johnson on July 2, 1964. (Civil Rights Act, 1964, 2008, para. 2)

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In the years since the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was signed into law, only a small handful of African Americans have risen to the national stage, set forth their positions, and goals and acted on those goals (Landrum, 1997). Younge (2002) acknowledges: there was a time when the rest of the world looked at Black America and saw dissidence…Black America is now presenting a radically different fact to the world. Today, they offer the developing world the official policy of one of the most reactionary U.S. administrations in recent times. (p. 44) The George W. Bush administration had its own struggles and issues, but it also offered the possibility of a new pool from which talented leaders came forward to demonstrate their qualifications, earn the trust and confidence of the American people, and chart a course for us all. Colin Powell emerged as a leader and was the first African American Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the first African American to hold the 65 th position of the Secretary of State. Colin Powell, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and U.S. Secretary of State, was a retired four-star General in the U.S. Army and the founding chair of America’s Promise, a program to organize the volunteer effort of America, especially in regards to mentoring minority children. An African American born in Harlem, New York of Jamaican immigrant parents and educated at the City College of New York (CCNY), Secretary Powell’s pedigree is far removed from any ties to established families, money, or elite institutions (Powell & Persico, 1995). The rise of Colin Powell to the Chairmanship of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in 1989 defined an epic event in American racial relations, and the significance of this watershed moment has yet to be fully acknowledged (Moskos & Butler, 1996). Colin Powell’s extraordinary career

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in the military progressed as he graduated from college as a commissioned second lieutenant, became a junior officer in the Vietnam War, and navigated through a series of command and staff jobs, culminating in his appointment to the pinnacle position of Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. In August of 1989, Colin Powell was attending a meeting in Baltimore with other army general officers. During this session Colin Powell received a message that Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney wanted to see him immediately at the Pentagon. The Secretary of Defense wasted no time and let him know that the purpose of the meeting was to inform him that he wanted him to be the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. According to Steins (2003) there were 15 generals that were senior to Colin Powell that were positioned for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. On October 3, 1989, Colin Powell was decorated as the new Joint Chiefs of Staff, and notably made history as the youngest chairman in history, and was also the first African American in that position. Colin Powell’s career defies most conventional stereotypes, and citizens have been most impressed by his character and integrity. Especially since the cynical American public has been antagonized by a political scene of decades of scandals and disappointments, Colin Powell has been an anchor of honor and integrity (Steins, 2003). Colin Powell’s story is one that illustrates that through hard work and determination, one can emerge from a humble beginning. Background The U.S. Army was Colin Powell’s avenue to leadership. Trained in military discipline and tactics, Powell gained combat experience in the Vietnam War and was exposed to the realities of national political power in the halls of the Pentagon and

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corridors of the White House. Powell makes it clear that at every step of his career he has learned both positive and negative lessons from the leaders he followed. Not until he rose to the military’s highest position at the time of the Gulf War and put his strongly held beliefs into practice did he become a new leader for his time (Landrum, 1997). In November of 2004, Secretary of State Colin Powell announced his resignation, ending his 4 years of struggles over U.S. foreign policy with then Vice President Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld (Allen, 2004). Today Colin Powell continues to share his leadership styles in corporate boardrooms and at public speaking events. Colin Powell is one of President Obama’s most prominent Republican supporters. Colin Powell is the first African American officer to hold the nation’s highest military post, and he has served under five presidential administrations. General Powell was promoted to the rank of four-star General in April 1989, and was named Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in August of that year (Powell & Persico, 1995). At the age of 52, Colin Powell was the youngest person to serve in that position. Powell planned and executed the invasion of Panama in 1989 and Operation Desert Storm during the Persian Gulf War in 1991. On December 16, 2000, George W. Bush announced to the nation that Colin Powell was his choice to be Secretary of State; Powell was the first African American Secretary of State in U.S. history. During his announcement, Bush held back tears as he called Powell “an American hero” (Wright & Chen, 2000). With his dynamic leadership style and public appeal, Powell has come to embody the American dream, within the structure of the U.S. Government.

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Problem Statement Even with the historic passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the advancement and assimilation of Black leaders into the U.S. predominantly White organizational hierarchy is often seen as one of the greatest challenges still facing America today (Aldefer, Tucker, Morgan, & Drasgow, 1983). Blacks are also underrepresented in leadership positions in the military (Dovidio & Gaertner, 1996). According to Knight Hebi, Foster, and Mannix (2003), Black workers continue to be dramatically underrepresented in leadership and managerial positions across the nation. Colin Powell himself struggled against racism and inequality, and argued the following in My American Journey (1995): Racism was still relatively new to me, and I had to find a way to cope psychologically. I began by identifying my priorities. I wanted, above all, to succeed at my army career. I did not intend to give way to self-destructive rage, no matter how provoked. If people in the South insisted on living by crazy rule, then I would play the hand dealt me for now. If I was to be confined to one end of the playing field, then I was going to be a star on that part of the field. Nothing that happened off-post, none of the indignities, none of the injustices, was going to inhibit my performance. I did not feel inferior, and I was not going to let myself become emotionally crippled because I could not play on the whole field. I did not feel inferior, and I was not going to let anybody make me believe I was. I was not going to allow someone else’s feelings about me to become my feelings about myself. Racism was not just a Black problem. It was America’s problem. And until the country solved it, I was not going to let bigotry make me a victim instead

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of a full human being. I occasionally felt hurt; I felt anger; but most of all I felt challenged. I’ll show you. (p. 43) African American leaders have had to overcome many obstacles throughout history; all of the injustices and obstacles Powell faced did not hinder him from becoming a successful military and political leader. According to DeYoung (2006b), “No politician matched the breadth of his support across race, gender, income group or party” (p. 258). He was, as Time Magazine noted in a complimentary cover story, “something of an empty ideological vessel into which voters pour their own beliefs” (p. 258). Colin Powell drew the focus of the U.S. news media during the fall of 1995, as news stories speculated that he would run for President of the United States. According to Perloff (1998), news agencies regularly reported on results from opinion polls that showed Powell’s popularity and Americans’ desire for him to run for president. This research examined the intersection of race and politics and analyze the roles and influences of Colin Powell as an African American military and political leader. The intent of this research is to understand through the lens of five Caucasian and five African American business leaders why and how Colin Powell could have transcended the racial barriers that have plagued African Americans, setting the stage for a colorblind society. The research used a qualitative approach, allowing the participants to freely share their thoughts, perceptions, and attitudes about the key factors that they believe allowed Colin Powell to appeal to a multiplicity of ethnicities and achieve an unprecedented level of success among African Americans.

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Purpose of Study The purpose of this phenomenological study is to describe the perceptions and attitudes of African American and Caucasian business leaders to gain an understanding of how Colin Powell achieved a unique appeal across racial barriers. This study also examined whether Colin Powell’s leadership traits surmounted any issues of racial prejudice or criticism of his qualifications. Colin Powell has his critics from both Caucasians and African Americans, and both have expressed different reservations about his abilities. This study examined the criticisms made by his opponents and also the views of his admirers. The literature review focused on several themes. Firstly, an examination of leadership models provided the background of this focused study. Secondly, a review of primary sources included Colin Powell’s own autobiography and interviews with him. Finally, the researcher reviewed a variety of secondary sources that examined the origins of politics and race in America, explored military leadership training, and investigated the effects of mentoring. Research Questions The intention of this study was to compile and present key factors identified by African American and Caucasian business leaders as the key factors to Colin Powell’s many successes. The research answers the following questions: 1. How do Caucasian and African American business leaders perceive Colin Powell as a leader with regard to making sound judgments? 2. How do Caucasian and African American business leaders perceive Colin Powell as a leader with regard to upholding ethical standards?

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3. To what extent, if at all, do Caucasian and African American business leaders perceive Colin Powell as a leader with regard to his military accomplishments? 4. To what extent, if at all, do Caucasian and African American business leaders feel that Colin Powell’s accomplishments represent the fact that race and ethnicity are no longer barriers to reaching the highest levels of political office in the United States? Importance of the Study In American history, institutional racism has had a major impact on the development of African American self-esteem and group identity (Allen, 2001), and yet Colin Powell rose above these challenges. Understanding Colin Powell’s success could define a new direction and pathway for other Americans who want to believe that although racism persists, the system is not so corrupted by it as to prevent diversified talent from succeeding. In addition, this study is important because of the dearth of empirical research on African American leaders in the highest-level military and political positions, as these achievements relate to their authority and acceptance across racial boundaries. This study examined the leadership role played by Colin Powell in the military and in U.S. foreign policy. Through the lens of African American and Caucasian business leaders, this study sought to identify the significant qualities and characteristics that allowed Colin Powell to emerge as a leader and that challenge conventional notions about the role of race in military and politics. The researcher adapted evaluation criteria from the Pew Research Center (1999) Political Typology Survey to assist in understanding Colin Powell’s leadership characteristics and qualities.

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The Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan “fact tank” that gathers information about the issues, attitudes, and trends shaping America and the world through public opinion (Pew Research Center, 2009a). Other relevant sources also were used to explore Colin Powell’s effectiveness as a leader. According to Lusane (2006), Colin Powell did not consciously allow his racial identity to substantially influence or characterize his participation in the defense and projection of U.S. hegemony, but Powell would bring race off the shelf when he felt it was useful. This literature review provided useful information in understanding the powerful role race plays in politics. The information gained from this phenomenological study can offer guidance to individuals from diverse backgrounds who aspire to be leaders. Colin Powell serves as an excellent role model of a member of an ethnic minority who operated within the context of White America and overcame the boundaries of discrimination, helped by White America to reach an unprecedented level of success. Lastly, the results of this study make an important contribution to the literature on the long history of racial oppression in the U.S. Ultimately, this researcher hopes to spread the message that in the U.S. in the 21 st century, diverse individuals can shape the ideology of a colorblind society, becoming leaders based on character, strength, and talent. Definition of Terms The following list of terms and their definitions are used in this research study: • African American: Any person who claims African ancestry who is a U.S. citizen. Black and African American are used interchangeably and refer to Americans of African descent. According to a Gallup poll by Newport (2007), the survey indicated no strong consensus among the American Black community for how

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their racial group should be described. A clear majority of Blacks did not care which label is used (African American or Black). For those that it did matter, there was a slight tilt toward the term African American. • Black: Connotes belonging to the Black race. • Characteristics: Distinctive qualities or traits of a person or thing. • Doctrine: A set of fundamental principles by which military forces or elements thereof guide their actions in support of national objectives. A doctrine is authoritative but requires judgment in application (FM101-5-1, 1997 p. 1-55). • Ethnicity: A term that represents social groups with a shared history, sense of identity, and has cultural roots in a specific geographic area. • Federalism: The sharing of the powers of government between the national (federal) government and the governments of the states (Walton, 1972). • Jim Crow: A rigid system of racial inequality and segregation implemented in the Confederate States of America (Marable, 1998). • Leader: A person who influences a group of individuals towards achieving a common goal (Northouse, 2001). • Mentor: Mentoring is about one person, usually who has a senior position or is older, helping another to achieve something. • Negro: A person with dark skin who is a descendant of peoples from Africa (or whose ancestors came from Africa); relating to or characteristic of or being a member of the traditional racial division of humanity having brown to Black pigmentation and tightly curled hair (“Negro,” n.d.).

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• Phenomenology: A philosophy or method of inquiry describing the meaning of the lived experiences of several individuals regarding a concept or phenomenon (Creswell, 1998). • Quality: Level of excellence; a property or attribute that differentiates a thing or person. • Racism: The doctrine of individual and institutional discrimination, segregation, prejudice, and negative acts that are overly or covertly directed toward a particular racial or ethnic group. • Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC). Nationwide college program that prepares students for service as officers in the armed services (Barber, 2004). Assumptions of the Study The study was conducted under a number of assumptions. First, the researcher assumed that the participants interviewed answered the questions truthfully and thoughtfully (the participants were assured of anonymity and confidentiality), and did not hesitate to speak and share ideas (Creswell, 1998). Secondly, it was also assumed that the researcher was able to set aside any biases and evaluate the data objectively during the interview process and while analyzing the data. This is predicated on the researcher’s admission of admiration for Colin Powell. This bias toward him may have impacted the impartiality of the study, despite the researcher’s best efforts to neutralize this bias. The final assumption is related to the design of the research. The methodology for this qualitative study included the use of in-depth interviews; it is assumed that this approach ensured that the data collected was of adequate depth (Creswell, 1998).

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Limitations of the Study For a study of this nature, an extensive personal interview with Colin Powell would have been desirable. Due to the nature of the subject’s prominence, however, such an interview was unlikely. The researcher sent several letters to Colin Powell’s office in an attempt to secure an interview; unfortunately no responses were received. The researcher also met with Colin Powell’s nephew in an attempt to contact his office. The interview with Colin’s nephew lasted approximately 1 hour; during the interview he provided insight into the family history and how he was related to Colin Powell. The interview concluded with him agreeing to send a letter to Powell’s office. In a follow-up email he reported that he did not receive a reply from Powell’s office. The researcher attempted another outreach with American Promise, a foundation that Colin Powell and his wife support. A letter was sent by email and fax to this office, asking that the researcher’s letter be given to Colin Powell. Once again the researcher received no response from the American Promise office. The researcher searched the Internet for creative ways to contact Colin Powell, for example to see if Powell had a booking agent. Powell does in fact have an agent, but the process of contacting the agent required an entertainment request form and was clearly intended more for organizations that were interested in booking a paid event. Throughout the duration of this study the researcher continued to send letters, network, and send communications to America’s Promise in an attempt to secure an interview with Colin Powell. (See Appendix A for a sample of the letter that was sent to America’s Promise.) The study was limited to only interviewing Caucasian and African American business leaders in executive/senior management positions within major corporations in

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Southern California. This very narrow sampling had the potential to affect the study’s transferability. The researcher used a thick description of the participant’s responses, therefore allowing readers to draw comparisons to other contexts (Lincoln & Guba, 1985). Finally, conducting a study on a living person has its own unique challenges since Colin Powell is still in the process of formulating his legacy. Summary This chapter identified: (a) the introduction and background of the problem, (b) the purpose of the study, (c) the research questions, (d) the importance of the study, (e) definitions of terms, and (f) the assumptions and limitations made in conducting the research. In review, the study focused on if and how Colin Powell transcended the confinement of racial classification by compiling and presenting the elements that African American and Caucasian business leaders identified as crucial components of Colin’s success. The following chapters provide a review of the relevant literature, the methods to be used in the study, the results of the study, and a final presentation of the study’s findings.

Full document contains 190 pages
Abstract: Although African American leaders have had to overcome many obstacles throughout history, all of the injustices and obstacles Colin Powell faced did not hinder him from becoming a successful military and political leader. The purpose of this qualitative study was to describe the perceptions and attitudes of African American and Caucasian business leaders to gain an understanding of how or if Colin Powell achieved a unique appeal across racial barriers. Using a purposeful sample, the voices of 5 African American and 5 Caucasian business leaders participated in a semi-structured interview process that gleaned their lived experiences, as their voices detailed their perceptions of Colin Powell. The first phase of the data analysis implemented the techniques prescribed by Moustakas' modification of the Stevick-Colaizzi-Keen method of analysis of phenomenological research. The participants' interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim by the researcher. The second phase involved organizing, analyzing, and synthesizing the data into clusters and emerging themes. The researcher accomplished this through the Qualitative Solutions & Research (QSR), Nvivo 8, a software program that is used to organize and analyze qualitative data. A coding process was used in Nvivo 8 that organized the data into significant statements and meaning units, resulting in the essence of the experience. As the researcher read the transcripts multiple times; themes were annotated in the margins as short phrases, ideas, reflective notes, or key concepts that occurred. The findings resulted in 16 themes that emerged from the study. The overall perception was that Colin Powell transcended racial barriers and was a leader identified not by a racial descriptor but his accomplishments in the military and politics. The implications are for leaders to choose not to be defined by their race, per say, but by achieving success, either in spite of or irrespective of racial barriers. The researcher recognizes additional research that can be expanded from this study that would add richness and more insight. Another study recommendation would be a comparison of strategies that Colin Powell and Barack Obama embraced that fostered their remarkable accomplishments and success with regard to breaking racial barriers.