Center for Work Life’s recent Blog Talk Radio episode gave clues about a leader known for his conflict resolution strategies, and the person who was discussed is Winston Churchill. Leadership, mediation and influential are just a few words that come to mind when thinking of Winston Churchill. It was the year 1939, in the face of World War 2, that Britain called him back into government service to face the looming Nazi threat. Within a year he became Prime Minister. And in 1953 Winston Churchill was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature and was knighted (Biography.com). His list of accomplishments could likely equate to a novel in length and Tom Brokaw said of Churchill “He was one of the greatest men, not just of our time, but of all time.” And for every leader there are qualities that help them achieve such great heights. Below are three leadership qualities of Winston Churchill.
Winston Churchill‘s Leadership Qualities
Churchill often argued that “to shrink from stating the true facts to the public” was a mistake (Transformation Systems). He recognized that that without transparency, there is no trust. Letting his feelings show in an appropriate capacity, he was emotionally intelligent and didn’t hold back. His ability to seek truth and stick by the truth earned him dedication of the public. Churchill also said “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is. ” It’s one thing to speak about honesty, but quite another to live honestly. However, Churchill was an honest man his whole life. At times, his honesty earned him backlash. At other times, his honesty earned him respect and love. But for Churchill, and any great leader, his goal wasn’t to be loved, it was to do the right thing and seek truth.
Amy Woodson-Boulton, Professor of History at Loyola Marymount University, explains in a mini Churchill Biography that he was known for clear decision making. It was clear from his first time spent in British government that Churchill was wary of Stalin and Nazi Germany. And though it wasn’t popular, he stuck to that assessment, even when it made him an outcast. And when Britain began to realize he was right and called him back to service, Churchill quickly came to aid. He decisively decided to defy the world’s oppressors. The ability to stick to one’s gut and step up to make decisions, rather than wait for others to take charge, is a trait of a successful leader.
“Each night before I go to bed, I try myself by Court Martial to see if I have done something really effective during the day – I don’t mean merely pawing the ground, anyone can go through the motions, but something really effective”(Winston Churchill Leadership). And if his own words weren’t proof enough of his persistence, it can be seen in his early reporting career when he escaped from the Boers in South Africa or his service to his country through the end of World War 2. Even in the first gloomy days of his British leadership when it seemed the war was already lost, he told the people “we shall fight on the seas and 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” (Forbes).
Three qualities that may seem like everyday traits enabled Churchill to change the fate of nations and save lives. But these qualities were not words he spoke to describe himself, or words he wore written in jewelry. They were core values that were integrated into his decisions every day. His ability to cause change in the world sprouted from his choices on a regular basis to look at the world with clear eyes, be transparent and stand for what is right. Without the decisions of “everyday Churchill,” the accomplishments of “textbook Churchill” that changed the world would never have existed.
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