Wednesday, February 26, 2020, 07:31 (GMT+7)
Building leadership style under Ho Chi Minh’s ideology

Ho Chi Minh’s leadership style is a mixture of methods, measures, and ways to perform his task of leadership over the revolution. His leadership style is built on Marxism-Leninism and has within itself the Vietnamese cultural identity and the Vietnamese people’s soul and manners, all of which have created sustainable values of great importance to training and improving the leadership style of cadres and leaders, particularly the key ones at all levels in the current period.

President Ho Chi Minh had paid due regard to building leadership style since the Communist Party of Vietnam was founded and particularly it became a ruling party. He mentioned this in his work entitled “Rectify working style” over 70 years ago, emphasising that “it is necessary to rectify the Party’s working style.” According to him, it was the best way to prevent and combat the risk of degradation within the Party when it became a ruling party. The reason was that weaknesses, particularly in leadership style represented the internal enemies more dangerous than the foreign ones. Besides, he added that without resolve by party organisations, cadres, and party members to rectify their weaknesses, “they were just like sick people who concealed their illness and did not dare to take medicine, thereby posing a risk to their life.”

To build leadership style under Ho Chi Minh’s ideology, it is important to focus on several basic measures as follows.

First, building leadership style with a combination of revolutionary enthusiasm, objectivity, and scientism. According to Ho Chi Minh, leaders and managerial cadres must have revolutionary enthusiasm as a basic element and incentive for all of their actions. However, revolutionary enthusiasm is encouraged only when it follows objective principles and closely combines with scientific knowledge. Without objectivity and scientism, revolutionary enthusiasm will become idealism and voluntarism, lead to the misperformance of revolutionary guidelines and policies as well as actions against objective principles, and hinder revolutionary progress. Revolutionary enthusiasm of managerial cadres and leaders become effective only when they are knowledgeable about their work and field. During their study and work process, managerial cadres and leaders acquire scientific knowledge and improve their political and professional knowledge and their political acumen against new developments of our revolution and the world situations. Thus, President Ho Chi Minh believed that “in any circumstance, party members and cadres must devote themselves to working and studying in order to improve their cultural, professional, and political knowledge.”

Scientific style is the first element and basic precondition for building leaders’ working style. Scientific style of leaders, cadres, and party members plays an important part in forming proper, scientific, and creative leadership method, which will also enable them to give appropriate direction for work, have proper perspective on and correct assessment of other people, and use the right people. To have a scientific style, leaders, cadres, and party members must establish a routine for undertaking investigations, researches, and surveys. They have to clearly set out working targets, road maps, steps, and measures properly. They should remain steadfast in principles and targets but flexible in strategies. Also, they must actively carry out inspections and supervisions, conduct reviews, and draw lessons.

Second, building a democratic but assertive style. According to President Ho Chi Minh, as ours is a democratic regime, leadership must be also democratic. Democracy within the Party means that all party members have freedom to express their opinions during meetings so as to achieve a consensus on the leadership viewpoints and guidelines and the building of resolutions. Democratic style is expressed when leaders discuss with other people and listen to their opinions about the performance of tasks, particularly the critical ones. It is necessary to exercise democracy; however, it is also important to maintain centralism, prevent formal democracy, and avoid arbitrariness and autocracy. Cadres and leaders, particularly the key ones must both exercise democracy and listen to their collectives’ opinions. At the same time, they must be assertive and fully aware of their responsibility. Also, they have to dare to make decisions, dare to do, and dare to take responsibility. President Ho Chi Minh ever criticised leadership method of several cadres for lacking democracy, which prevented others from expressing their opinions and led to a divide between superiors and inferiors as well as between the masses and the Party. During the work process, leaders and managerial cadres should be fully aware of the collective role, create a democratic work environment, listen to collective opinions, and promote collective knowledge. However, without being assertive or daring to take individual responsibility before their collectives, they would be unable to make timely decisions or make progress in their work. President Ho Chi Minh reminded leaders and managerial cadres to assign each ordinary affair to each person. However, according to him, important affairs must be decided by collectives. He believed that leaders’ responsibility and assertiveness should always be heightened, which would be sometimes a deciding factor in the task performance. A good leader must have a democratic, collective working style, dare to do, and dare to take responsibility before their collective, and he/she must be assertive enough to make right decisions during crucial times.

Third, leaders and cadres must always keep in close touch with grass-roots level and the masses. Maintaining a close-knit bond with the masses to perform the leadership and managerial role is a matter of principle which is built on the principle of democratic centralism in the Party’s organisation and operation. According to Ho Chi Minh, leaders and cadres who listen to and understand the masses and promote the masses’ strength, self-awareness, and creativity would be capable of uniting and mobilising the masses to create a huge incentive and source of strength for the sake of the successful fulfillment of all missions. In 10 years of socialism building in the North (1955-1965), according to statistics by the Ho Chi Minh Museum, he had over 700 visits to military units and localities for the assessment of the situation and inspection. He had an average of 60 visits to localities every year and 6 meetings with the masses on a monthly basis. Moreover, when reading newspapers and letters sent by the people daily, he also took notes of good opinions and urgent issues and asked competent offices to receive and resolve.

Leaders and cadres must have a harmonious relationship with the masses and learn from them, but they must not agree with all opinions from the masses. Only by maintaining a close-knit bond with the masses could leaders and cadres comprehend the masses’ real life and capacity as well as their inspirations and troubles to opportunely set out measures for fixing the problems together with the people. Leadership in close association with the masses will help improve objectivity and transparency and enhance the work of inspection and supervision, thereby better controlling the exercise of power, closely inspecting and supervising the use of assets of the State and the people, effectively preventing and combating corruption.

Fourth, making leaders and cadres capable of setting good examples and matching words with action. Setting a good example for others to follow and matching words with action are indispensable to a leader. Leaders and key cadres must be in the vanguard of all work, dare to say, dare to do, dare to take responsibility, and maintain their revolutionary morality. Setting good examples does not mean having a long tongue but a short hand; it mainly means action. To do so, leaders and key cadres must always match words with action, which is a matter of principle and utmost importance to setting good examples. In fact, cadres and party members, particularly the key ones who have a long tongue but a short hand or lack integrity would undermine their own prestige before the masses and their inferiors. Only by ensuring consistency between words and action could cadres, party members and leaders win the confidence from their collectives and inferiors and the masses.

Leaders must set good examples for others to follow and they must sacrifice their personal benefits and rights and their awards. During their work, they should dare to say, dare to do, dare to take responsibility, and especially dare to present new, breakthrough ideas and take responsibility for their new ideas. In their daily life, they must have standard, clear words and set up values and standards of a leader.

Fifth, making good use of cadres and talented people. When he was alive, President Ho Chi Minh paid special attention to assessing and using cadres and he set a good example in “the good use of cadres and talented people.” He stressed the proactive detection and training of talented people. Making good use of talented people is a routine, continuous task and it is necessary to exploit each type of talent. He said that “we would use special talents for special work and we would assign tasks to persons according to their talent. By doing so, we would not be worried about being short-handed.” He added that “we must remember that everyone has both strengths and weaknesses. We should promote their strengths and help them to rectify their weaknesses. Using a person is like a carpenter’s clever selection of wood for his/her work.” Without skilful use of cadres, there would not be any progress in work and it would constrict talents, damage the Party, and expose weaknesses in the Party’s personnel work. President Ho Chi Minh required leaders and managerial cadres to make the most of talents. Besides, leaders and managerial cadres were asked to courageously appoint good cadres and talented people so that they could dedicate themselves to the Party, the revolution, and the people. He believed that not knowing how to use talented people is a serious shortcoming and would squander a valuable resource of the Party and the State in the national construction and development.

Building leadership style under Ho Chi Minh’s ideology does not go beyond the common regulations on cadres and party members’ working style; it imposes higher requirements and more clearly demonstrates the role and responsibility of cadres and party members as leaders and managers. Thus, each cadre and party member must actively study and emulate Ho Chi Minh’s leadership style so as to keep improving themselves to better meet the requirements set by the Homeland construction and protection in the new period.

Sr. Col. Dinh Xuan Thuy, MA, The Military Academy of Vietnam

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