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Three Traits for Leadership Longevity

Pictured: Marshal V. I. Chuikov in attendance at the 26th Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in Moscow, February 1981; lapel pin (top) identifying a Deputy of the Supreme Soviet; lapel pin (bottom) signifying a Delegate for the 26th Congress. The 26th Congress was the final one attended by Chuikov, who would suffer from a lengthy illness later that year.

Marshal Chuikov enjoyed a distinguished career in the military, in public service, in diplomacy, and as a much-celebrated author and speaker. Vasily Ivanovich lived until the age of 82, and is still remembered and revered for his numerous contributions. One of the joys of being able to investigate his life and work is spending time reviewing the sheer volume of information in existence, meaning that one could spend many years researching and continue to learn new things.

In considering his length of tenure and high success in elevated military and government positions, one can glean a wealth of knowledge in effective leadership practices. Even though the focus of this blog is to explore Marshal Chuikov’s life and work through the lens of western leadership and management theories, his is an example that transcends geographical boundaries, cultural confines, and the political realm. Volumes have been written about the specific period of time during which his command of the 62nd Army was crucial to the defense of Stalingrad; however, there is so much more to Chuikov’s biography.

In studying the treasure trove of experiences Vasily Ivanovich had during his lifetime, it is intriguing to discover the characteristics which determined his successful leadership over a lengthy period of time. Author and minister John C. Maxwell identified three traits for leadership longevity—character, competence, and consistency. Values, beliefs, and actions define a person's character. A person with character "walks the walk and talks the talk." Competence refers to the ability to perform the task. A leader's ability to produce results is directly related to their quality of work. Integrity, professional behaviors, and temperament also determine consistency. Leaders are held accountable for keeping promises, completing deadlines, and setting high standards of excellence. After conducting much study and research (and only scratching the surface thus far), it is my belief that Marshal Chuikov possessed these fine qualities and many more, and serves as a prime example of what an effective, authentic leader should be…


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