Recently a news media company asked me to complete a questionnaire about ideal leaders. Some examples of ideal leaders, like famous figures, are listed in the attached sheet: Oda Nobunaga, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, Tokugawa Ieyasu, Sakamoto Ryoma, Saigo Takamori, Julius Caesar, Napoleon Bonaparte and Winston Churchill. After contemplating for a while, I came up with the name of Charles Gordon.
Charles Gordon, a British army officer of the Victorian era, has been very popular in his home country. In a Sherlock Holmes story, there is a depiction of a painted portrait of Gordon. It is said that his death caused the then cabinet to resign. I remember seeing a statue of Gordon riding on a camel in a school nearby when I was stationed in the U.K.
When Gordon was only about 30 years old, he led a militia and fought battles in many regions in China during the late Qing dynasty, helping suppress the Taiping Rebellion. After returning to his home country, Gordon was posted to various countries, including Egypt, Belgium and India. Then he was sent to Khartoum, Sudan, where he led the operation of evacuating British and Egyptian forces. His attempt to evacuate all the friendly troops ended up causing him to be besieged by an enemy force. Then he died a tragic death two days before a relief force arrived.
It is said that he led a life of honorable poverty. When the British government was going to reward him for his outstanding service, he declined to accept all financial gifts and titles. He donated almost all his stipends to charity organizations. When he was posted overseas, some of his friends, unable to remain indifferent to his penniless situation, would force him into accepting farewell financial gifts, though he may have been a person who lived in an ivory tower.
Gordon’s life shows his character of toughness and selflessness, essential qualities for ideal authentic leaders. I am sure that these qualities are what attract many people in his home country as they do for me.