WHAT MAKES A LEADER

4/11/16

When did running for President of the United States become akin to WWE's Wrestlemania, with reputable news networks readily compromising their brand integrity for tabloid sound bites all for the sake of ratings? If the past seven years have taught us anything it is that the casualties will always be the working class; that the road to recovery is long and near impossible when we turn a blind eye, and don't use our constitutional rights to make politicians be accountable representatives of the people instead of special interests groups and big banks. On January 20, 2009, when PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA became the 44th President of the United States, he inherited a myriad of problems, each more grave than the next in matters of practicality, but none more great, in my humble opinion, than that of restoring HOPE and CONFIDENCE to the American people and the international community. 

George Washington Carver said, "Where there is no hope, there is no vision," and there are few more poignant truths. 

Years prior, I remember seeing then Senator Obama speak in support of now Secretary of State John Kerry's Presidential run and, like many in the audience, was moved to tears. For the first time since our great country began its systematic failure of the American people, someone was speaking about VISION and HOPE with AUTHENTICITY. His words were impassioned and they made my heart soar, causing the emboldened thought, "just maybe we, as a handsome collective, can actually climb out of this mess."  Now nearing the end of his undeniably successful reign as President of the United States, and looking at the field of candidates seeking to replace him, it is only fitting that we explore the virtues of LEADERSHIP head on. For when our future books are written, President Barack Hussein Obama will indeed be crystalized as one of the greatest leaders the world has ever known. But, is he the only one?

Retired Four Star General COLIN POWELL has been the nearly mythical giant of great character that has always had the ability to disrupt the whole system of party lines, yet seems less than interested in taking on the professional and personal repercussions. Knowing that our inquiry was not a new one, ICON MANN dug into the vaults to see what TIME had to say about it in 1995 when they asked, 'Will He Run?'

The ability to positively affect a societal change, thankfully, is not reserved for politicians. Within this month's SPEAKERBOX section we feature three men of significant means and notoriety who are outliers of change: SEAN 'DIDDY' COMBS, KOBE BRYANT and STEVE HARVEY. Each are investing in the youth's future via educational advancement and mentorship. This month's CULTURE section focuses on the disruptive power of leadership music with its tribute to A Tribe Called Quests's PHIFE DAWG, and the disruptive essence of art with super producer SWIZZ BEATZ, and late Malian photographer SEYDOU KEITA. 

In paying respects to Phife, ICON MANN man OMARI HARDWICK, star of the hit show POWER, pens a deeply personal poem to his friend while JAMES LOPEZ, entertainment industry executive and former music man, curates the essential playlist in celebration of the man/the group that informed a whole generation of brothers. Thank you each of you!

Iconiclly,

Tamara N. Houston