Saturday, September 11, 2010

Do Leaders Have a Plan B ?

“So what’s your Plan B?” A question you will hear often to counter the Plan A for any emergencies. If plan A does not work, there is a plan B. Derived from the business world and typically used by managers, now the lingo is accepted generally amongst those who are risk savvy. But do leaders have a plan B? Following an interesting discussion, I was tempted to explore more to only realize that they commonly DO NOT. Leaders differ from managers, although some people who use the two terms interchangeably may disagree. But as the saying goes, “Managers are people who do the things right, while Leaders are people who do the right thing”. Their goals are ultimate for which they go to the extent of spending all their energies and often all their life time to make it happen. SUCCESS remains the ONLY success indicator for them; whether they live to see it happening or they die in pursuit of it.

China remains the ever evolving legacy of Mao Zedong (1893 - 1976). He left behind his famous thought variant of Marxism, which is still followed widely and called Maoism. His struggle for more than two decades (1927 - 1949) of civil and international war won him The People’s Republic of China in 1949 through his famous Red Army of peasants and worker class. Inspired by the famous Russian revolution, he aimed against the corrupt elite and shook up the peasants and workers to bring universal justice and equality and set forth the revolution that emerged as an independent state. Despite controversies, he is officially held at the highest regard in China as the savior of the nation.

Martin Luther King Junior (1929 – 1968) had a dream that set forward the vision of a color blind American society. He challenged the status quo and called for change the way African Americans were treated, in a non violent way. He took risk, despite threats to his personal safety and stood up for his cause. His charismatic oratory won him the support of millions because of the inspiration and energy he used to transfer through it. He created that sense of urgency for the greatest civil rights movement in the history and remained in accord to his highest value i.e. non violence.

Ernesto Che Guevara (1928 - 1967) a physician whose thoughts were transformed by the pain and sufferings he witnessed during his travels of Latin American inlands. His solution to the ingrained economic inequality was to revolt against monopoly capitalism and imperialism for which he first chose Guatemala and later joined Fidel Castro in Cuban revolution. His traits as a military strategist and guerilla leader put him second in command during the two years successful guerilla campaign. His intellect and diplomacy made him perform on key positions in the new government of Cuba under Fidel Castro. But his quest to end the sufferings of the poor moved him again to decide quitting the government role in Cuba and revolt in Bolivia eventually ending in his assassination.

You can pick any other: Nelson Mandela, Mother Teresa, Mohandas Gandhi, M. A. Jinnah, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk and the list goes on. None of them had a Plan B. And an important component of the Plan A of all these leaders was the HOPE which they successfully kept alive.

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