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Winston Churchill: What Makes a Leader? Essay


Winston Churchill was born on the 30th November 1874 into the family of a prominent Conservative politician Lord Randolph (“Sir Winston Churchill: The Greatest Briton?” sec. 2). His father deemed him unfitting for a political career and placed Churchill into the army class (“Sir Winston Churchill: The Greatest Briton?” sec. 2). His service during the Boer Wars eventually enabled him to start a political career, as the story of his imprisonment in Pretoria brought him fame and allowed him to be elected as the MP for Oldham in 1900 (“Sir Winston Churchill: The Greatest Briton?” sec. 6). Throughout his political service, Churchill experienced many ups and downs; nevertheless, to this day, he is seen as “an inspirational statesman, writer, orator and leader who led Britain to victory in the Second World War” (“Sir Winston Churchill” par. 1).

The major crisis that Churchill encountered was World War II. It was a difficult time for the entire world, and the weight of responsibility on Churchill as the new Prime Minister in 1939 was immense. The foreign secretary Lord Halifax tried to persuade Churchill to negotiate peace terms with Hitler. However, he remained resolute and instead used his speeches to inspire the nation to fight and to win (Best sec. 3). Communication and persistence became the dominant characteristics of Churchill’s leadership style during the war: as Taylor writes, “In the dark early days of the Second World War Churchill had few real weapons. He attacked with words instead” (par. 5). This style was very popular with the general public: people’s approval of Churchill’s policy as estimated by various polls remained very high for the duration of the war (Taylor par. 6). Churchill changed the very basis of the British wartime policy, altering the country’s political and military approach from defensive to aggressive, hence changing the course of the war (Best sec. 1). Other characteristics of Churchill’s leadership style included passion, courage, and strong vision (Lim sec. 4-6) that also contributed to his overall success and popularity in the time of World War II.

However, despite Churchill’s many victories throughout the war, there were also some debacles before and after the central crisis. For instance, Churchill’s experience as the First Lord of the Admiralty in 1911 was seen as a negative one and caused him to resign: he was widely criticized for the naval failures that happened under his command (“Sir Winston Churchill: The Greatest Briton?” sec. 10). Since before the Second World War, Churchill has been seen as being “out of step with time” (“Sir Winston Churchill: The Greatest Briton?” sec. 13). Many people viewed his proposals as obsolete, which is why he was not re-elected straight after the war (Taylor par. 12).

Despite all the high and low points of Churchill’s service, he is still remembered as one of the greatest British leaders: “he was an idealist and a pragmatist; an orator and a soldier; an advocate of progressive social reforms and an unapologetic elitist; a defender of democracy as well as of Britain’s fading empire – but for many people in Great Britain and elsewhere, Winston Churchill is simply a hero” (“Winston Churchill: Mini-Biography on the Life of Winston Churchill” sec. 1). The story of his devotion to the country shows how qualifications and remarkability do not define a leader; his personal beliefs, connection to people and faith in the country are the qualities that do.

Works Cited

Best, Geoffrey. “Winston Churchill: Defender of Democracy.” BBC History, 2011, Web.

Lim, Eduardo. “Six Leadership Traits of Sir Winston Churchill.” Supply Chain 247. 2015, Web.

“Sir Winston Churchill.” Gov.UK, Web.

BBC, Web.

Taylor, James. “How Churchill Led Britain To Victory In The Second World War.” Imperial War Museums, Web.

History, Web.

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IvyPanda. (2020, September 1). Winston Churchill: What Makes a Leader? Retrieved from https://ivypanda.com/essays/winston-churchill-what-makes-a-leader/

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1. IvyPanda. "Winston Churchill: What Makes a Leader?" September 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/winston-churchill-what-makes-a-leader/.


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IvyPanda. "Winston Churchill: What Makes a Leader?" September 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/winston-churchill-what-makes-a-leader/.

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IvyPanda. 2020. "Winston Churchill: What Makes a Leader?" September 1, 2020. https://ivypanda.com/essays/winston-churchill-what-makes-a-leader/.

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IvyPanda. (2020) 'Winston Churchill: What Makes a Leader'. 1 September.

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