Cubas Transformational Leader Fidel Castro Cultural Studies Essay

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Inspirational Leader During my involvement with issues like leadership and management, I must admit that real leaders are the ones that implement their vision with efficiency and make people feel trusted and inspired. People can be inspired and find their meaning of life by align their needs and desires with the vision of their chosen leader. The history has shown that few individuals can be thought as real leaders. As Ronald Heifetz and Donald Laurie state , the leader's main responsibilities are to direct people by defining the problems of a situation and identify the adaptive challenge. In this way the leader can be considered as "protector" since he or she can shield people and organizations from external threads. Apart from this an inspirational leader must have self knowledge, must be authentic and devoted to his passion and vision. Great leaders as Goffee and Jones discovered, share unexpected qualities such as they empathize passionately and realistic with people. In addition they manage employees with something they call tough empathy.

Early Life

An important personality and an inspirational leader can be considered Fidel Castro. Fidel was born in Biran and he is connected with the revolution of Cuba for its independence. His father was an immigrant from Spain that succeeded in sugar industry. His mother was a household servant. It is said that Fidel was an intellectual student that was more interested in sports and spent many years of his life in private Catholic schools. He entered the University of Havana and he began his political careers by being a recognized figure in Cuban politics.

It is important to mention that Castro was considered to be one of the primary leaders of Cuban Revolution. At that time Castro enrolled with the politics of the country by being the Prime Minister of Cuba in 1959-1976 and then he took over as the President of the Council of State of Cuba until 2008. By being a transformational leader Castro tried and manage to overthrow the dictator Batista, and led the transformation of Cuba into a one party socialist republic.

Values

Castro tried to pass the message to Cubans of social justice, honest government and political freedom. He believed that freedom and economic independence are two of the most important elements and principles that a person should fight for.

His beliefs and his vision were highlighted by the Cuban Revolution, where he managed to make his followers believe in his thoughts and sustain their freedom and equality. He and his followers tried to attack Batista's government. Although this attack proved to be a disaster and caused the death to many people, Castro managed to escape. His people were totally devoted to him and he assured that freedom will arise. It is of great importance to mention that Castro believed that his failure came from the fact that his car encountered serious problems and that the operation was lost. This, tell us that he never gave up the fight and that nothing else could be a fine reason for his failure! Castro went to prison for fifteen years. During his trial he delivered his famous defense speech "History will absolve me" a speech that can be considered as the expression of the personality of the leader.

Leader's Traits and Style

According to this speech we can highlight some core concepts from the Rhetorical Tradition. Fidel had the ability to "Adjust ideas to people and people to ideas". His speeches had ethos and character along with pathos. His listeners and audience were engaged in his ability for talking for hours, always remaining devoted to his words. He repeatedly made rhetorical questions to its audience making his speeches lively and enthusiastic.

Fidel held totally and absolutely "incommunicado", in violation of every human and legal right. He states, emotionally, that "only one who has been so deeply wounded, who has seen his country so forsaken and its justice trampled so, can speak at a moment like this with words that spring from the blood of his heart and the truth of his very gut".

He was very self confident of his competencies where he stated that: "taking advantage of my professional rights as a lawyer, I would assume my own defense". In an interview in 1995 he express that "Today, I feel I am more a revolutionary than ever because everyday I am more convinced that what we did was right."

In an attempt to support his subordinates he said: "The rest of the accused, the minority, were brave and determined, ready to proudly confirm their part in the battle for freedom, ready to offer an example of unprecedented self-sacrifice and to wrench from the jail's claws those who in deliberate bad faith had been included in the trial." Fidel was proud of himself as we can see from his own word: "to inform you that if to save my life I must take part in such deception (of being ill), I would a thousand times prefer to lose it."

He seems to be ironic and sarcastic in some part of his speech: "What unbelievable crimes this regime must have committed to so fear the voice of one accused man!" This in fact tells us that he never lies and he expresses his feelings (negative or positive).

A leader is important to have specific traits that will help him in his mission. According to Kirkpatrick and Locke traits alone are not sufficient…Leaders who possess the requisite traits must take certain actions to be successful. Among these traits are certainly drive, leadership motivation, integrity, self confidence, and cognitive ability, traits that can be identified to Fidel Castro personality and leadership characteristics.

Fidel Castro can be considered as an effective leader that combines a task-oriented behavior along with relations-oriented behavior. He is task oriented since he has the ability to plan and schedule his people, coordinate his subordinate's activities. He tried to overthrow his enemies by setting high but realistic performance goals. In addition he can be though for his relations-oriented features due to the strong supportive and helpful role he maintained through his political career. At a point of his speech he addresses his people: "my brave comrades, with unprecedented patriotism, did their duty to the utmost. 'Yes, we set out to fight for Cuba's freedom and we are not ashamed of having done so,".

Being a charismatic leader, Fidel was being change-oriented, possessing a compelling vision. According to Bycio behaviors associated with transformational leadership include giving a high degree of attention and support to individual followers and offering followers intellectual stimulation and engendering a high degree of respect from them. Fidel as we can see, was able enough to gain the respect of thousands of Cubans and thousands of people around the word. On the other side he respected them also. As he states: "I am grateful for the polite and serious attention they give me." His vision was correlated with his followers needs, beliefs and values, and this was of extreme importance for the achievement of Fidel's goals. His vision of freedom was aligned with his followers' dreams! This can be seen from his own speech "The fact is, when men carry the same ideals in their hearts, nothing can isolate them - neither prison walls nor the sod of cemeteries. For a single memory, a single spirit, a single idea, a single conscience, a single dignity will sustain them all."

Fidel employed a range of change management styles. He can be considered an Effective Leader since he was totally committed to his believes and to the goods such as freedom, faith. As he states in an interview "identity with the fatherland, with sovereignty, with independence, and with the Revolution -- save it, help to save it, among all of us. Many, many things can be done. I hope that you are convinced". Moreover he possessed a vigorous pursuit of a clear and compelling vision. In that sense it is important that he managed to stimulate his people with high standards as he tried to pass the message of freedom to its community and its country in general. Moreover we can distinguish in its face a competent manager and leader where he managed to organize people and resources toward its effective objectives.

Fidel engaged in intellectual stimulation, individualized consideration and inspirational motivation, making himself being recognized as a transformational leader. He possessed the charisma in order to transform the whole society. It is clear that this variety of leadership styles had been used concurrently.

According to trait approach, Fidel was intelligent and confident. Moreover he was sociable and this can be seen from the way that he handled his people in his speeches, his jokes etc. According to R.Duane Ireland and Michael A.Itt, Fidel managed to develop a great group that has accepted their responsibilities, which are fulfilled with involvement and commitment, understand the significance of their duties. As Fidel says: 'You must know your duty; I certainly know mine.'

Fidel can be seen as a visionary Leader with many characteristics of a strategic leader as these are described by Glenn Rowe. As a visionary leader Fidel Castro was proactive with shaped ideas. He had the ability to influence attitudes and opinions due to his strong character and personality. Moreover he was concerned about the future of his society and his people and he kept finding ways of ensuring the freedom and justice. He was making decisions based on values, such as freedom, justice, virtue, trust. Moreover we can find characteristics that justify the fact that Fidel is considered to be a strategic leader. He had strong positive expectations of the performance he expected from his subordinates and itself. His choices made a difference in the whole society.

Can Fidel be considered as an authentic leader? I believe that Fidel managed to convince his people and his subordinates that he is capable of achieving great things for his country. His words where consistent with his deeds, as his vision of liberation of his society from the injustice and poverty became a reality. He never said that he was an authentic leader! As Goffee and Gareth assumes, authenticity is largely defined by what other people see in you and, as such, can to a great extent be controlled by you. For these reasons he can be considered authentic.

Fidel maintained a helicopter view of his society with strategic thinking, strategic management and leadership. He was able of doing the right things for his people.

The Alchemist

The leader's voyage of development is not an easy one. Some people change little in their lifetimes; some change substantially…Few may become Alchemists…

David Rooke and William R. Torbert

In their survey on the "Seven Transformations of Leadership", David Rooke and William R. Torbert, demonstrate seven ways of Leading. Fidel can be considered as a strategist since he generates societal and personal transformations. Apart from this we can justify that Fidel combines also characteristic of an Alchemist, where he generates social transformations, integrates material, spiritual and societal transformation, making himself one of his kind. As they state, alchemists are typically charismatic and extremely aware individuals who live by high moral standards, while they focus intensively on the truth. As Fidel says: "I had nothing to hide, for the truth was: all this was accomplished through sacrifices without precedent in the history of our Republic". Moreover he as a leader had the ability to speak to people's hearts and minds.

Fidel´s personality and paradigm could be extremely important in the today's globalizing world. Companies should be recruited with this kind of minds in order to sustain the competitive advantage and be more wealthy and profitable. Strategic alignment, agility and sustainability are the most important values in a business context. A transformational leader like Fidel can maintain the effectiveness of the performance of every business or society.

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