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Charles de Gaulle: A Portrait of a Good Leader Essay

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Updated: Sep 29th, 2021

Introduction

Charles de Gaulle was the President of France from 1958 to 1968. During his tenure as the President, de Gaulle transformed a country, which had a shattered economy, a fractious political establishment, and a dependency on American aid into a first-rate power with its own standing in the comity of nations. This essay attempts to explain the qualities of leadership displayed by de Gaulle, which led to the resurgence of France as a major power.

Main body

As a youth, Charles had always shown great interest in military affairs. Consequently, he joined the French military and distinguished himself in World War I by winning three awards. During the war, he was wounded thrice and was made a prisoner of war for over two years. He tried to escape five times from his incarceration thus displaying enormous courage, tenacity, and resolve.

During the interwar period, de Gaulle rose up the ranks to become a colonel. All through he was clear-minded and bold enough to write memos based on necessity and not on the likes and dislikes of his superiors. His independence of thought earned him the ire of his seniors who ensured that de Gaulle never got promoted above the rank of a Brigadier General. However, his sterling qualities of leadership were recognized by the French government of Paul Reynaud who appointed him as the undersecretary of state for defense and war in 1940.

After Germany overran France in the early part of the Second World War, de Gaulle shifted to Algiers to run a shadow government and lead the Free French Forces for the liberation of France from German occupation. To gain the leadership of the Free French Forces, de Gaulle showed great political acuity in outmaneuvering his possible contenders for the top job. In doing so, de Gaulle displayed great qualities of flexibility and agility. De Gaulle’s firm and resolute leadership during the resistance period, together with Allied help, led to the liberation of France.

After the war, the French political establishment was in turmoil, with no clear direction, goals, or structure. De Gaulle rightly concluded that if he was to lead France, it would be done legally, through constitutional means. The patience that he displayed bore fruit, when in 1958; the people of France and the political elite accepted him as the President with sweeping executive powers. With great courage of conviction, de Gaulle embarked on a mission to empower France. His vision, administrative efficiency, and energy led to a slew of reforms. Firstly, he declared that France would follow an independent foreign policy. He used the European Economic Community (EEC) to further French agricultural interests and quickly brought the French economy back on track. In 1966, de Gaulle announced the complete withdrawal of France from NATO, thus ensuring an independent role for France in World Affairs.

Conclusion

A good leader must not only possess good judgment and deliver sound decisions; he must also monitor the results of those decisions. De Gaulle did that by personally touring every part of the country and checking with the grassroots organizations, the progress of work. So great was his charisma that in the 1965 election, the people of France overwhelmingly voted him to continue as the French president. Towards the end of his illustrious career, de Gaulle also showed great humility in accepting his defeat in the 1969 referendum, retiring to his home gracefully. Thus it can be said that Charles de Gaulle was a good leader.

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IvyPanda. "Charles de Gaulle: A Portrait of a Good Leader." September 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/charles-de-gaulle-a-portrait-of-a-good-leader/.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Charles de Gaulle: A Portrait of a Good Leader." September 29, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/charles-de-gaulle-a-portrait-of-a-good-leader/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Charles de Gaulle: A Portrait of a Good Leader'. 29 September.

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