Ernesto “Che” Guevara is a revolutionary legend and international icon. The man known simply as Che has left a lasting impression on society. From his revolutionary status to his undying determination, Che has exceeded the expectations of not only his superiors and disciples of his time but those who were born much later as well. He is not your typical leader although he possesses many of the characteristics, traits and values that are referred to most of the worlds primary leaders. From his childhood up through his fantastical live to his untimely death, Che has defined what it is meant to be a leader in every sense of the definition.
Che was born Ernesto Guevara de la Serna in the into a middle-class family in Argentina. In the early 1950s he was trained to be a practicing medical doctor but that career did not seem to suit his wild heart. He then decided to explore the world in which he lived, by riding his motorcycle through Latin America. During this time he has the opportunity to remove himself from his comfortable, middle-class life and see for himself what the people of his country and of neighboring countries are experiencing as their life. What he saw was absolute poverty and tremendous despair.
This had sparked a part of his mind and heart to be active in fighting this type of economical depression by taking on the capitalistic government directly. He then chose to join Fidel Castro in his fight against imperialism. This is where his genuine leadership abilities had surfaced. His immense determination combined with his emotional fervor for such a cause, he was practically unstoppable.
From here on out, Che fought side by side with the people he was trying to protect and empower. His meeting with Castro brought him to Cuba where he fought and eventually assited in the overthrowing of then ruler and Dictator Fulgencio Batista. He did not stop here. Che went on to ensure all of the people of Latin America who were aware of their exploitation and continued to spread the revolution as the commander of the Rebel Army. Up until his death he maintained his ideals and values while motivating people to take action.
Che found much of his education not only in the books that he read while pursuing his education but also through extensive travel. According to David Deutschmann, “Travel is another kind of learning. It changes your perspective immediately, because it requires new and different responses from you.” Che really cultivated himself and even reinvented himself during the time of his motorcycle tour. He had grown as a person and as a leader considering now he was motivated that he took the responsibility to then motivate others.
Deutschmann also describes “authenticity” and “self-invention” as almost parallel terms. As leaders grow and adapt to not only their position but also to the world in which they live, they form a sense of self that they embrace and that entices others to follow. Che knew exactly what he wanted to do. Clearly he wanted to make his vision the vision of the people and he succeeded in doing that on an international level. He was being true to himself and his beliefs. His core values included but are not limited to self-sacrifice, moderation, faith, and devotion and not once did he stray from these values.
Throughout his leadership endeavor, Che had maintained authoritarian leadership style. He was given the name “Che” which means “friend” or “buddy” which would suggest a more democratic or possibly even a laissez-faire leadership style but his work suggests something else. Although he was the type of leader that seemed to truly set an example and followed the rules that he imposed on others, he was also the person making the rules and expecting others to follow. In David Deutschmann’s compilation The Guevara Reader, it is evident throughout that he is laying down the law. Once reading through, it is evident that although it is educational material it has a propagandist air to it. We have to remember, however, that he is attempting to start and maintain a revolution that is to spread worldwide. He controlled a highly efficient group of men and women whose general interest were at hand.
Although this may be contradictory, I feel that Che engaged in interpersonal orientation pattern of leadership over the task orientation. This is apparent in Che in the way he had even embarked on his revolutionary endeavor. “The true revolutionary is guided by a great feeling of love,” believed Che. He has also undoubtedly shown his leadership by the roles he has assumed from his youth until his death. He has a vision for not only himself but for all people.
Che has had a loyal following since he first set out on this endeavor. He recruited followers through his expert power and referent power. Marxism was Che’s forte and he held strong to his philosophies. Through his compelling writings and teachings, Che gathered many followers both in Latin America and beyond. He unified the Latin American people not according to country or class but the entire continent. His socialist philosophy and his philanthropy has given him such the honor to be compared to Jesus Christ.
Communication was obviously one of Che’s key traits to his leadership success. Through his writings alone, he portrays a sophisticated individual with the knack for narrative. He also was quite a charismatic leader. He was even known to entice people by having them merely look at him. He is a highly educated man with a passion for words and his altruistic actions speak for themselves. He inspired an entire generation to question authority and opened their eyes to an unjust world that was hidden behind a new wave of American consumerism.
Actions tend to speak louder than word but when sung together they are all the more effective. Ernesto “Che” Guevara is a genuine example of how a person emerges as a leader and evolves into an icon. He was able to take the world in, adapt to his surrounding and in turn attempt to change the world, as we know it. He is a pioneer of a revolutionary theory that is still a living and breathing document today. As Che had said, “Let the world change you then you can change the world.”