In studying organizational leadership we often forget that the study of historical figures who are seldom mentioned in the corporate world may give us some interesting insight. Demythologizing leaders who’ve taken on the veneer of myth and forgotten history is an important exercise. Furthermore, sometimes we have a unique opportunity to compare two rivals in the process of trying to understand their role in history and, from our point of view, the personalities and subtleties in their style.
As I’ve often maintained in this blog before reading about leaders, even those who might not be role models, is more insightful than reading about leadership. Mao Zedong and Chiang Kai-shek, two of the most prominent figures of the 20th century, struggled against each other for the leadership of their nation. Their struggle as well as the analysis of their personality, their leadership styles, their tactics and strategies, their successes and failures, their flaws and their short-comings makes for a fascinating read for anyone interested about leadership.
Mao: The Unknown Story, by Jung Chang and Jon Halliday