Leadership as a philosophy and practice, is not unknown to me. I have learned about it first-hand, from the coat tails of two giants who braved real wars and real struggles in my life since I was a child – my grandparents.
They were my yardsticks for gold standards of leadership in a furnace. And for my grandma, the role model of leadership struggles for ladies. I expect nothing less from those who dare take up top echelons of leadership.
From real wars emerged leaders
My grandpa came from an impoverished background in Hubei. Despite his suffering as a child to his teens, he went on to become a scholar, an army general during the war, then a professor, economist (many of his books became labor economics textbooks for universities), and then a CEO/chairman for a hospital in his twilight years. He was also very active in the labor movement and participated in the UN ILO programs. He supported the rights of the workforce and women. He reposed at a ripe old 104.
My grandma was commanding and stern, and nothing short of spectacular. I have never seen her in a less than commanding position, and certainly neither my grandpa nor grandma ever shed a tear in public. She was elected a legislator (member of parliament) at the young age of 36. Prior to that, she was serving at the frontlines of war as a nurse in 1938 onwards at age 26 at the fifth and sixth war zones in China. She also held stints as a teacher and a principal at schools. She was a forerunner of a lady in leadership, and stood for the rights of women since her 20s. She reposed at 100.
Leadership demands courage and sacrifice
Leadership is demanding, especially in the top echelons of politics, which affect large populations, and not just businesses and small communities. To be a lady in post-dynastic China facing tremendous conflict in the 1930s to 1940s and rising to prominent leadership, took great courage and wisdom. It was a time of war, bloodshed, suffering, poverty, and death, demanding only those who put the needs of others before self, and a spirit of complete sacrifice.
I have nothing but awe and every ounce of respect for my grandma. I saw her as both martyr and leader, and I hold leadership occupiers to that exacting standard if whoever so dare climb to such levels of position and sit in it.
I see my grandpa in the same light. He was a scholar, a soldier, a teacher, and a leader. I am extremely proud when he gave me his approval having braved through my own yards of suffering and struggles to attempt to make good what I went through. I owe everything to having such leaders in my family as role models. It certainly gave me humility.
Leadership is tough, and demands nothing but hard-nosed courage and a resolve of steel against all the “kryptonite” of the world.
Seamus Phan has 35 years of professional experience. Polymath Problem-Solver & Strategist – Leadership, Cybersecurity, Branding, Crisis, Scientist, Artist, Author, Aviation, and Theologian. Some articles are reproduced at McGallen & Bolden, where he is CTO and Head of Content. Connect on LinkedIn. ©1984-2023.