Commitment and leadership
EDITH CAVELL was a pioneering nurse who became, tragically, a war hero. Diana Souhuami is the author of “Edith Cavell” – the book tells how, on August 20, 1914, she watched as 50,000 German soldiers marched into Brussels. Nothing in her upbringing as a vicar’s daughter in a Norfolk village, nor in her nursing career, had prepared her for the dangers of the resistance. Seeking the woman within the martyr’s statue, this Centenary Edition biography draws on the qualities of devotion, altruism and bravery that sustained Edith Cavell throughout her remarkable life.
In October 1915, after ten weeks in solitary confinement, she was taken from the cells and executed by the German firing squad. Her crime had been to conceal Allied soldiers wounded in battle or separated from their regiments, nurse them, then guide them across the frontier into neutral Holland. One of her final notations was: “I have no fear or shrinking. I have seen death so often that it is not strange or fearful to me. Think of me as a nurse who tried to do her duty. My love to you all. I am not afraid, but quite happy. Your devoted Matron.” Edith Cavell, in her own, way was a leader, motivating her patients who would certainly have recognised that quality, to meet their challenges.
Charles Phillips has written “50 Leaders Who Changed History” and in this he features his logical choice of higher profile people, ranging from Moses to Steve Jobs, who in their time and in their own way have influenced those around them. One he lists is Nelson Mandela who wrote his own story in “Long Walk to Freedom”. He is a wonderful example of a person with an objective in life who, defying the odds, achieved the status his people desired and became their formal leader. The first page of the book tells: “The only thing my father bestowed upon me at birth was a name, Rolihlakla, which in their language means ‘troublemaker’.” Mandela emulated the few great political leaders such as Lincoln and Gandhi.
During World War I, Australian military forces on the Western Front were subjected to the ineffective battle plans of British generals until John Monash rose in command. Roland Perry describes in “Monash the Outsider Who Won a War” how John Monash turned the first four years of slaughter into success in several battles, forcing Germany to capitulate. Perry reveals the true Monash character as a family man, engineer, businessman, lawyer, Renaissance man, teacher and soldier. This title focuses particularly on his military campaigns.
Another title, “Maestro Monash – Australia’s Greatest Citizen General” by Tim Fischer, similarly deals with that aspect but also covers how William Morris Hughes went to lengths to obstruct the recognition of Monash, in particular his promotion to being a General – it’s thought that Hughes’ reasons were because of Monash’s Jewish heritage and the likelihood he would become an opposition candidate in politics.
We can relate to many of the “50” listed in the Philips’ book. Moses provides the ideal model of a leader and how that quality can emerge. Also included are Jesus of Nazareth, Catherine the Great, Karl Marx, Napoleon, Mother Theresa and Margaret
Mandela is a wonderful example of a person with an objective in life who, defying the odds, achieved the status his people desired...