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Passing the Torch

Pictured: from the publication Pioneerskaya Pravda of 1 February 1963. The text says the following:

“The Beginning of the Path—the favorite book of war of pupil of the Moscow Suvorov School of Yuri Kashcheev. This book was written by commander Marshal of the Soviet Union Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov, Twice Hero of the Soviet Union, General of the 62nd Army defending Volgograd. Yura dreamed of meeting the marshal, hearing from him the story of the battle on the Volga. And so this meeting took place. The best pupil of the school, Yuri Kashcheev, was invited to the Military-Political Academy named after Lenin, where Vasily Ivanovich Chuikov shared memories of the unforgettable days of 1942-1943. And then the illustrious Marshal approached the Suvorovite, asked how he studied and handed him his book with a commemorative inscription.” Chuikov’s autograph in Yuri’s book is dated 24 January 1963.

Authentic leaders understand their role of ‘passing the torch’ in generational leadership. Investing in future generations demonstrates established leaders’ gratitude for the influential people who invested in their lives. Creating a network of leaders is an effective way to sustain an organization’s culture instead of being dependent on one effective leader. To shed light on best practices for conveying leadership lessons, sports and life leadership coach Mark Van Hoozer wrote the following:

“Great leaders pass the torch. In other words, they hand off the role of leadership to future generations. What separates great leaders from ordinary leaders is the timing of when this process begins. It is not at the end of their career or when the board votes them out. The passing of the torch is an ongoing process as they identify and develop the talent around them.”

Marshal Chuikov spent much time in his career investing not only in his soldiers, but also in Pioneer and Komsomol (Communist Youth) groups throughout the USSR, encouraging others to do likewise. A previous blog entry includes a letter to the editor of Smena in 1979 where Vasily Ivanovich admonished Soviet citizens to share the stories of heroism from the Great Patriotic War. Film footage from the Soviet era captured the legendary Marshal sharing stories from the front with young people who were eager to hear from such a distinguished leader. A recorded 1-hour long session from 1977 (tap the link on the photo to view) featured Marshal Chuikov interacting with cadets from Moscow School No. 284. The warmth Chuikov exuded as he shared stories from the Civil War and from the Great Patriotic War is evident in his connection with his young listeners. No doubt these children who transitioned into adulthood long ago remember their conversation with this authentic leader for the rest of their lives…


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