I was reflecting upon revolutionaries, from Nelson Mandela to Rosa Parks to the single parent of three who inspires her or his children with hard work and tough love.
I was contemplating the power of influence and influencers who make a difference by their command and control to others who demand respect with their silence and servitude.
From Jesus to James Dean and prosperity to prowess, leaders and what attracts others to them may vary, but one constant remains the same: Everything rises and falls on leadership, as Dr. John Maxwell has put it.
Leadership has built the biggest empires. It has collapsed the greatest corporations. It can unify diversity or divide unity. It can cast visions, catalyze movements, coalesce people and revolutionize industries and culture. Or it can run an organization and country into the ground by hardly trying or making a few wrong moves.
And you get what you pay for in leadership, not just in monetary terms but in quality of leader replication and organizational development. There is a direct correlation between the health and potential of an organization's leaders and how far their subordinates and the organization can soar. Fudge on leadership and a company will falter, plain and simple. Morality, magnanimity and mistakes all metastasize under the levels of leaders. For an enterprise cannot grow greater, wider or deeper than the person at the top.
No leader is perfect, and everyone has his or her flaws. But those who have gained my respect are those who have proved themselves through the test of time and results.
One of those is Gen. Colin Powell.
You may not agree with his politics. You may not like all his moral stances. You may assail him for his entanglements in the Middle East. Or you may say Washington's marginalizing Powell was a big mistake.
But you can't deny his stellar career as a leader par excellence. After his four decades of military service -- beginning at age 17 as a Reserve Officers' Training Corps cadet -- this retired four-star general in the U.S. Army also served in four presidential administrations, including being the first African-American to serve as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and as secretary of state.