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A Youthful Leader

Pictured: Young Chuikov as Commander of the 43rd Regiment of the 5th Rifle Division of the Red Army, 1919

Today's global business environment features horizontal organizations with flatter structures rather than traditional vertical hierarchies with employee promotions based on seniority. Effective young employees are often promoted to supervisor positions over older employees, but it takes time for the team to accept a younger leader's authority, meaning they often need to prove themselves before their older counterparts will take them seriously. While it can be frustrating to navigate group dynamics, it requires consistent excellence, strong people skills, open communication, and a lot of patience.

Before Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov was a Marshal of the Soviet Union, he was a leader who rose swiftly within the ranks of the Red Army due to his natural abilities, knowledge gained from experience and study, and personal attributes of leadership. In an essay published in the book titled Fighters for People's Happiness by Shemyakov, 19-year-old Regimental Commander Chuikov was described as an effective leader who was able to win over his older peers:

“[He was a] young commander with clear and confident answers, seriousness beyond his years, and tactical intelligence. It was also valuable that he already had, albeit little, combat experience on the Southern Front [in the Russian Civil War]. Almost all the commanders and soldiers of the regiment were older than him, many were good fathers, and some of the subordinates were at first wary of him. Therefore, sometimes it was not easy in the classroom, but everyone studied diligently.

Chuikov knew the weapons perfectly, he shot perfectly, he could show any technique himself. What is incomprehensible—he explained to subordinates patiently, over and over again. But then he checked it meticulously. While teaching the Red Army soldiers, the young commander persistently studied and gained life experience. And gradually the difference in years began to fade—distrust was replaced by respect. Since that time, Chuikov has retained for his whole life a special love for combat training, the desire to be convinced of the preparedness of each fighter for himself. "


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