energizing breakthrough performance

An Extraordinary Man — True Leadership

Author: ; Published: Dec 1, 2011; Category: Matrix Management, Uncategorized; Tags: None; No Comments»

Christopher Dowswell had an eternal glow about him, abundant energy that transcended his age and health, endless enhusiasm and total dedication to his life’s work which was eradicating hunger and poverty through agricultural development throughout the world, particularly Africa. He was chief of staff to the late Dr. Norman Borlaug, father of the Green Revolution and much, much more. I am a lucky man for knowing him for the past several years. I only wish I could have known him longer. What a privilege that would have been. Yet, in perspective, most people go through their years on this planet and never enjoy the privilege of meeting and knowing someone like Chris. Today, I am grateful for knowing him in the same instant that I am saddened by his passing.


I met Chris in his capacity as a top executive at Sasakawa Africa Association when I was engaged to provide matrix management assistance. Just minutes after meeting him in Nairobi, I knew that I had met a friend for life. He connected with people on an immediate and deep level.  Some executives are more task-focused. Other executives are more people-focused. Chris was both task-focused and people-focused and he was a virtuoso in both areas. I have worked with powerful executives around the globe. One shared characteric of successful executives? They all look directly into your eyes, without fail. However, with Chris it was different. Chris looked into your eyes and you could see his inquiring mind at work: Who are you, really? How can I leverage your talents so that you can join me as a force for positive change? It was so very powerful. It was unique. It was all about his mission, not his ego.


I would return from Africa and comment to my friends about the after-hours conversations we would have. The sparkling and sophisticated conversations about world affairs were a cut above the conversations I enjoyed in New York or Washington.  Why? Chris brought the energy. He brought the sparkle. He was truly a man of the world. He made it all special, instant by instant. What’s more, he had assembled a unique group of people who were up to the task and added to the energy he brought. And the task was always grand, never trivial, never small bore.


Chris had enormous gravitas. He was a force for good. I don’t know how many Christopher Dowswells populate this globe of ours, but it’s plain that there aren’t enough of them. Chris was what genuine leadership is all about. May we all be inspired by him and may each of us become ever more powerful in improving the lives of others wherever we may be, whatever our walk of life. There’s no replacing Chris Dowswell, but those of us who knew him encumber a unique debt: we owe it to him to do our best to try. 

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