The Inspirational Leadership of Sir Winston Churchill

Sir Winston Churchill.

Image via Wikipedia

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:

Conference of the Big Three at Yalta makes fin...

Image via Wikipedia

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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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Historical facts and quotes were obtained at Wikipedia and Military Quotes.  Every effort was made to convey the facts accurately.

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About Christian Paulsen

Christian Paulsen is an Executive Consultant with 20 years of Lean Manufacturing. Chris adds value to organizations by driving process improvement and bottom line savings. Chris intends to help others by sharing the lessons learned after a quarter century of operational leadership, marriage, parenting, and even longer as a Cubs fan. Your comments on this blog are welcome. You can also connect with Chris via LinnkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook in the right sidebar. Chris welcomes your comments. Christian's professional services are available by contacting him through LinkedIn (right side bar)
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22 Responses to The Inspirational Leadership of Sir Winston Churchill

  1. Pingback: The Inspirational Leadership of Sir Winston Churchill | Life's … « Five Little Rules

  2. Pingback: The Inspirational Leadership of Sir Winston Churchill | Life's … « Five Little Rules

  3. Keyuri Joshi says:

    I deeply admire Churchill who had the GUTS to lead instead of run a popularity contest. Thanks for another inspiring post.

  4. What is unique about Winston Churchill is that he was up against the whole British establishment, they laughed about him and made him look rediculous. “Oh Winston is giving one of his silly speeches about Hitler again”…

    It takes much more than courage to do go against the whole of society and only a handful of people would be able to do so. You have to be so passionate about what you believe in, stubborn and be prepared to go through hell.

    Or as Churchill put it: “When you are going through hell, keep going”. And he really did. On top of it he was frequently in debt with creditors chasing him.

    And the other thing is that he never gave up “Nothing is impossible, the impossible only takes longer.

    He saved Europe from Nazi Germany. But the irony is that he lost the first election after the war.

    • Catarina,

      Thanks for adding to the discussion. You are clearly a well informed fan of Winston Churchill. It is very ironic that he lost any election after the war. The US made General Eisnehower President and put him on the silver dollar coin. That explains the split service for the Prime Minister. I wanted to discuss that he took on Hitler against the establishment and the popular opinion of the people in more detail. The post hinted at it but I didn’t want to make to post too long. The other thing that struck me and I didn’t go into was his military service. He was in the Royal Army for nearly 30 years and was a Veteran of for four wars including WWI. He know how tough a prolonged war would be and still had the courage to do what was right.

      I hope that the debt we owe to people like Winston Churchill and other WWII veterans is not soon forgotten.

      Chris

      • You know Chris, the only time he succeeded really was when it came to stopping Hitler. Apart from that, most of the things he tried to achieve failed.

        It may sound strange but the time he was prime minister really represent a very small part of his life.

        Being European and having lived in London for 15 years I naturally know a lot about him. And what is outstanding about him is that he NEVER gave up despite having everybody that counts in the UK against him. You have to admire him for that.

        How many senators would go on year after year insisting on something that not only all senators but everybody else in DC laghed at?

        By the way, I’m not a fan of his. Caesar, for instance, achieved much more and is actually one of the most imporant people throughout history.

      • Catarina,

        Thank you for contributing to the discussion. Why is it do you suppose that he met so many failures yet succeeded at the most critical time? Maybe it’s the previous failures that prepared him for the long war against Hitler. Never giving up and tenacity are almost synonymous with Winston Churchill.

        Chris

  5. The following was posted on LinkedIn in the US Military Group by Duane Green:

    Great post, it’s unfortunate that most of the younger generation probably could not even tell you who Churchill was (or many of the other great leaders of the era; Patton, Roosevelt, Eisenhauer, etc…). Also interesting that in the current age of “political correctness” none of these great men would have ever been considered for a high-profile public position.

    I personally find the WWII era to be the most fascinating of any period in history, a few short years and the course of the world was changed forever. Sad to see that what happened in those years is now all but forgotten. My wife’s uncle recently died, he spent 3 1/2 years as a captive of the Japanese; member of a little band who built a bridge memorialized in the movie “Bridge over the river Kwai”. Not even a military honor guard at his funeral….

    Perhaps in retrospect the most important lesson we can take away from these inspirational people is that when times are the toughest the opportunities for those who are not afraid are also the greatest!

  6. This story is so inspiring. Churchill stood up for what was right against a fierce enemy. Here is a man who made a difference, as we all can, when we do what is good and right.

  7. Well said, Catherine. Thank you.

    Chris

  8. Susan Oakes says:

    Another really interesting post Chris and Churchill was a great leader. One extra point I would perhaps add is not only did he cultivate allies he also knew the commonwealth coutnries would back him up. When England declared war the countries supported him and went to war. In business it is not only your allies that are important it also includes those who will go the extra effort such as employees and other departments due to leadership skills.

  9. That really is inspiring. I watch many docs on WW2 and Churchill is always a part of the amazing story. His integrity and undependable perseverance was uncanny. If only we had more leaders like the man these days. Great post. I wanted to share two of my favorite Churchill quotes.

    “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfils the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.”

    “You can always count on Americans to do the right thing – after they’ve tried everything else.”

  10. Tim McMahon says:

    Christain, Nice piece. On the inspirational leadership. I think it comes easy when it comes from the heart. Stick to your convictions. Too many flip flop. That creates a loss of trust. If that happpens you can’t lead.

  11. In order to lead well and be an encouraging and motivating leader you need to care about people and what happens to them, and include yourself among their number. It is important to choose leaders who care about people, not about their own sense of importance, or their ability to persuade.

  12. Mina Joshi says:

    Great tribute to Winston Churchill as UK celebrated 70 years of the Blitz in September.

  13. The following comments were posted by Susan Mazza in the LinkedIn Lead Change Group discussions page in response to this article:

    • These are GREAT questions Christian: 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?

    You made me stop and think by suggesting that it takes courage to be inspirational – it most definitely does even though when someone is being truly inspirational they make it look easy!

  14. Frank says:

    After reading through your thoughtful representation of Sir Winston Churchill character I am strongly reflecting on how I willl answer the questions you posed at the end. With the odds that were before him I can say if I was in the same situation my behavior would have greatly varied from his. I have learned alot from reading this and your questions have given me something to focus on.

    Outstanding work!

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