It is spring in London. Prime Minister Winston Churchill is addressing the House of Commons on this troubling day in June. Germany invaded France just last month. France has already signed an armistice bringing a tremendous victory for Adolph Hitler and the Axis powers.
Prime Minister Churchill is speaking: “the Battle of France is over. I expect that the Battle of Britain is about to begin. Upon this battle depends the survival of Christian civilisation. Upon it depends our own British life, and the long continuity of our institutions and our Empire. The whole fury and might of the enemy must very soon be turned on us. Hitler knows that he will have to break us in this island or lose the war. If we can stand up to him, all Europe may be freed and the life of the world may move forward into broad, sunlit uplands.
But if we fail, then the whole world, including the United States, including all that we have known and cared for, will sink into the abyss of a new dark age made more sinister, and perhaps more protracted, by the lights of perverted science. Let us therefore brace ourselves to our duties, and so bear ourselves, that if the British Empire and its Commonwealth last for a thousand years, men will still say, This was their finest hour.”
The war is far from over. The London Blitz has yet to begin. Germany would sustain bombing of Great Britain for nine months. They bombed London for 76 consecutive nights. 43,000 civilians are killed in the bombing. It would be another five long years before Germany surrenders.
Sir Winston Churchill is widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders of all time. There are many reasons why he was able to lead the British through what may very well be their finest hour. To name just three:
- Courage: Prime Minister Churchill was fierce in his opposition of Hitler before the war. There were many attempts to appease Germany but Churchill recognized the enemy and had the courage to oppose Hitler to the end. Churchill’s response when then Prime Minister Chamberlain returns from signing the Munich pact with Hitler: “You were given the choice between war and dishonour. You chose dishonour, and you will have war.” Have the courage to do what is right.
- Allies: Winston Churchill maintained an excellent relationship with President Franklin Roosevelt and the United States. He was able to secure much-needed war supplies from the United States years before the US entered the conflict in Europe. Congress authorized providing supplies for the war effort to the English with no expectation of financial payment. He was also wise enough to become allies with the Soviet Union even though there were significant political and ideological differences between the nations. Maintain relationships. You will certainly have times where you need to rely on an old friend. Chose your team carefully. You may find times when you should work with someone, even if you don’t see eye to eye on everything.
- Inspirational speaking: Sir Winston Churchill was able to keep the troops and the civilian population inspired to defeat Hitler. It wasn’t easy. A lessor leader would have lost the will to endure such a horrific war. There were 60 million casualties, the most in the history of warfare. There were also shortages, and hardships endured by both the military and civilian population throughout Europe. Churchill’s speeches were truly inspirational. Recognize when your team needs encouragement. “Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
Do you have the courage to be an inspirational leader? Do you have the allies to be successful? Do you know how to speak into your team’s heart? Take steps today to become more inspirational in your leadership.
“We shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and the oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air, we shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.”
~~Sir Winston Churchill
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