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The Courage to Be Authentic

Pictured: image from Marshal V. I. Chuikov's visit to Mongolia in the 1970s, from the Venevsky Museum of Local Lore.

(A brief entry to share a few reflective thoughts...)

Over the past 3.5 years, I have explored Marshal Chuikov's life and work, to build the case for identifying him as an authentic leader. It has been a pleasure learning about him directly from his own works as well as through the words and reflections of those who knew him through the years. Authentic leaders are not without flaws and foibles; however, they can be "imperfectly perfect." Even with their shortcomings, they remain effective leaders. Jo Gorissen, business coach and columnist for the BizTimes of Milwaukee, wrote the following:

“We all yearn for authenticity and are drawn to people who are real. We trust them whether we agree with all their views or not. When you present yourself as a leader who is authentic, others want to follow you.”

A fundamental truth that I have discovered through researching Chuikov is this: it takes significant courage to be authentic. There are numerous historical instances when Vasily Ivanovich displayed an almost reckless, physical courage in the face of annihilation. However, to face one's self in the mirror requires a raw courage to look beyond the surface, to peer into the depths of the soul. It takes courage to be transparent--to allow others to see one's heart and soul.

One image that comes to mind is "a little crusty on the outside, but warm on the inside"--and I think this characterization fits Chuikov's personality. While there are numerous descriptions of his strong-willed nature, there are seemingly just as many instances of his genuine warmth and care, especially for his soldiers and for children. The selected image with this entry is one such example of how much he demonstrated care and concern for others.


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