Leadership, as we can learn from history–and business, and politics, and committees–is about others, not about oneself.
As my friend Denton Florian beautifully commented on my post from yesterday, leadership is about building, not about personalities. Without followers, there would be no leaders. Without the support and efforts of those who are led, no leader could accomplish much alone. Certainly an individual can work hard to attain a goal, but it takes a group to accomplish great things.
Yesterday, our Granaderos y Damas de Gálvez organizing committee met for the last time before the Symposium on Bernardo de Gálvez on April 2 at Rice (Sorry, it’s SRO now). Amidst the shouts and interruptions, the side conversations and the imploring voices for silence, I was amazed at how the group actually accomplished all that we had set out to do.
Under the leadership of President General John Espinosa and VP Mary Anthony Startz, the group had formed a coherent whole. Each person volunteered to do their part. There were no assignments. No orders. No commands. All of the members offered their services. Each performed his or her individual tasks and the whole, as the saying goes, will be far greater than the sum of its parts.
The Gálvez symposium started on a hope and a prayer. John Espinosa, of Hispanic heritage, always felt that American schools had dismissed and ignored the efforts of Hispanics throughout its history. He dedicated himself to helping Americans understand the importance of Spain and Hispanics to the growth and success of the United States.
In Bernardo de Gálvez, he found the ideal vehicle for sharing that love of all things Hispanic. It was his goal and ambition to bring together some of the nation’s best scholars on Bernardo de Gálvez. He wanted to provide a free venue for others to learn about Gálvez, a hero of the American Revolution. The Granaderos y Damas de Gálvez, an association in support of rescuing Gálvez from anonimity, rallied to his cause.
By their efforts, Rice University will host these scholars. Dr. Thomas E. Chávez has written the seminal book on Spain’s contribution to the American Revolution: Spain and the Independence of the United States: An Intrinsic Gift (The University of New Mexico Press, 2002 reprinted in 2012 and 2015). He is currently working on Benjamin Franklin’s papers and the relationship between Franklin and Spain.
Dr. Gonzalo Quintero Saravia, of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation in Washington, D. C. has just completed a 1,000 page dissertation on Gálvez. It has earned him a spot at Harvard where he is currently teaching part-time. We look forward to his book on the subject from the University of Florida Press.
There are half-a-dozen other books out there on Gálvez, most in Spanish. I am currently enjoying a novel by Cirstóbal Tejón called La Libertad de los Valientes. Another is being turned into a Spanish movie and several others are planning to write books about Gálvez. The sad and poorly-edited effort by Judge Ed Butler, fortunately, has fallen by the wayside.
The success of the Symposium will, without doubt, bring an increasing awareness of Bernardo de Gálvez, who he was, and why he was so influential in aiding the American Revolution. As President General John Espinosa has hoped, there is a growing audience of interested supporters of Bernardo de Gálvez, the quiet and successful leader.
Now, I have to get back to writing my essay on Gálvez as a leader. Thank you, Denton, for your suggestions on leadership!