[January 19, 2015] The study of great leadership is a responsibility of great leaders. Whether we study those that are good or evil is something that we should contemplate for it adds precision to our understanding of all leaders. Mao Zedong is one controversial leader who did both good and evil, and as such, should be meticulously studied for valuable lessons.
Born in 1893, Mao is considered the founding father of the People’s Republic of China and its greatest leader in all of its history. Chairman Mao, as he is often referred to, freed China from its medieval social-economic system and pushed it into a modern nation much faster than any Western nations. He liberated his people from the oppression of its Confucian past and gave women equal status in their society. Economic transformation took place under Mao who reduced corruption, streamlined bureaucracy, strengthen the economy, promoted education, and worked toward social justice.
“Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.” – Mao Zedong
Chairman Mao also succeeded in making China a nuclear power. However, his Great Leap Forward economic and social policies led directly to three years of starvation between 1958 and 1961. Estimates of the death toll range from 18 to 45 million. It has been asserted that coercion, terror, and systematic violence were the foundation of the Great Leap Forward and it motivated the most deadly mass killings of human history.1
“Communism is not love. Communism is a hammer which we use to crush the enemy.” – Mao Zedong
His key senior leader characteristics were:
- Ability to create a vision and the determination to accomplish it
- Dedicated to the Marxist-Leninism Communist ideology
- Commitment to the People’s Republic of China
- Talent to create strategic partnerships
Chairman Mao certainly did many great things for China, especially in bringing it into the 20th Century but he was also directly responsible for massive starvation and terror. In the final analysis China moved beyond the bad years of Mao and is now the world’s largest economy. His leadership was certainly controversial as he was a deeply flawed figure and Mao’s legacy still divides China even today.
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