[October 09, 2014] Ernesto Che Guevara is one of the most iconic revolutionary figures of the 20th Century. He continues to be admired, mostly in the Americas and in particular in Cuba where he assisted Fidel Castro overthrowing the Batista government. His name evokes strong emotion from socialists and communists alike throughout the world. Yet why is that the case? Why is he considered a revolutionary leader despite the fact that he did not fare well as a revolutionary himself?
Che Guevara was executed on this date, October 9, 1967 by the Bolivian army for trying to incite Bolivians to overthrow their government. While helping Castro in Cuba there was a problem between him and the new Cuban revolutionary government. While the specifics are unclear, what we do know is that he held prominent positions in the government yet did not perform as expected.
My typical choices for a leadership profile are fairly easy. They are well known leaders throughout history who faced great odds and prevailed. In this case, Che Guevara is a leader with some great talents but lacked some critical traits of the most successful senior leaders.
Here are some of the key leader traits of Che Guevara that can account for his successes as a leader:
- Highly Charismatic
- Romantic and Idealist
- Ruthless and Uncompromising with Opponents
- Risk Taker
An area in which he drastically failed was in strategic development. While he may have had a vision about the key issues of the day, like poverty, he was unable to craft an effective solution and then bring all the stakeholders together. He was a tactician and could work with small groups of people but could never lead a large organization. His ruthlessness and uncompromising personality further alienated many. And, he never could create a realistic plan to overcome the odds stacked against his brand of anti-imperialism.
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[Note] Che Guevara was born Ernesto Guevara de la Serna on June 14, 1928. Guevara served as a military advisor to Castro and led guerrilla troops in battles against Batista forces. When Castro took power in 1959, Guevara became in charge of La Cabaña Fortress prison. It is estimated that between 156 and 550 people were executed on Guevara’s extra-judicial orders during this time.