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The Leadership of Mao Zedong Research Paper

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Updated: Jul 18th, 2021


Mao Zedong was a communist leader and the founding father of the People’s Republic of China. Although his policies such as Great Leap Forward face heavy criticism, Mao formed the foundation that anchors modern-day technological growth and freedom in China. Nonetheless, based on Mao’s leadership styles examined in this paper in relation to those of Pope Francis, he stands out as a bad leader due to various failed leadership missions reported when he was at the helm of the Chinese government.

Why Mao Zedong Was a Bad Leader

Mao enacted policies that lacked any scientific proof of their likely success. For example, the Great Leap Forward policy resulted in a food crisis that led to the death of many Chinese people (Pang, 2016). This program was introduced in 1958 as a five-year plan that aimed at ensuring rapid economic growth. Diverse levels in his communist party’s leadership fabricated statistics to ensure that individuals in higher ranks were conformable with the Great Leap Forward policy (Pang, 2016).

Based on these fictitious figures, the state ordered for the production of agricultural produce for export at the expense of the ordinary Chinese citizen. The outcome was the starvation of millions of farmers who now had little left or nothing to eat after giving out all their harvests. By the end of the Great Leap Forward initiative in 1962, a huge number of people, including children, had died.

Mao was assertive in the development and implementation of his policies. For example, all peasant farmers were compelled to work in massive infrastructural projects and tedious steel production plants (Rittenberg, 2013). Diverting labor to these projects accompanied by natural catastrophes caused a high drop in grain production, thus leading to a major famine. To fulfill anticipated volumes of steel production, people were forced to melt even farm machinery under harsh conditions that interfered with their health.

Mao developed policies that encouraged him to abuse power. For example, Lee (2018) describes him as one of the notorious leaders in China, just like Qin Shi Huang. According to Lee (2018), Mao buried scholars alive as one of his policies that targeted intellectuals. His revolutionary ideas, for instance, the Cultural Revolution, led to the death and persecution of millions of Chinese.

Mao’s Leadership Style

Mao applied a charismatic leadership style. He discovered ways of winning in all situations, including during the most unfavorable moments. For example, his military judgments and advice turned out correct in all situations during World War II. This situation forced his followers and colleagues to not only believe but also respect him (Lussier & Achua, 2016). Mao’s charismatic leadership was manifested during these early years. He convinced people that his policies were right, despite the heavy criticism from other nations such as the United States of America.

Comparison of His Leadership with Pope Francis

Pope Francis and Mao stand out as strategists who believed in change. Although the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution doctrines having negative outcomes in China, Mao developed them with the objective of changing the status quo (Lussier & Achua, 2016).

For example, the Great Leap Forward program was formulated to accelerate economic growth. Similarly, Pope Francis was overly concerned about changes that guaranteed environmental security for all. For example, in 2015, he published an encyclical that convinced global leaders on the need for environmental protection. He warned about climatic changes due to irresponsible behaviors by multinational corporations. Mao also easily influenced people through his narratives (Lussier & Achua, 2016). For example, following the formation of the People’s Republic of China, citizens embraced Mao’s communist party. They regarded it as less corrupt and serving the needs of the common people.


Mao clearly understood the direction that he wanted China to take to realize developments. However, despite using his charisma to gain followership, he made mistakes such as introducing policies that caused a significant loss of life. Just like Mao, Pope Francis also knew the direction he wanted the Catholic Church to follow to attain spiritual growth.


Lee, T. C. (2018). Can Xi Jinping be the next Mao Zedong? Using the big five model to study political leadership. Journal of Chinese Political Science, 23(4), 473-497. Web.

Lussier, R. N., & Achua, C. F. (2016). Leadership: Theory, application, & skill development (6th ed.). Canberra, Australia: Cengage Learning.

Pang, H. (2016). Visual Mao Zedong and new world order. Social Identities, 22(6), 577-589. Web.

Rittenberg, S. (2013). . BBC News. Web.

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