Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born in Oxfordshire, England on November 30, 1874 to Lord Randolph Churchill, a prominent politician, and Lady Jeanette Jerome. At a young age, Winston aimed to succeed in life, where his father had failed, and so he did. Despite his rough beginnings at Sandhurst Royal Military College and his deployment in the army and the navy to various overseas operations, he managed his way into politics and became a successful wartime leader in history.
Churchill’s Personality Traits
There is a plethora of personality traits that define describe great leaders, including self-confidence, enthusiasm, assertiveness, emotional stability, extroversion, warmth, trustworthiness, frustration tolerance and even sense of humor. For generalist leaders, they are characterized by ambition, vision, cooperation, collaboration, good communication, development, encouragement, influence and engagement, with the last two being considered as best fit. All in all, these traits can be difficult for leaders to possess, but those who are superior exhibit, at least, half of these qualities.
One of these superior leaders is Churchill, who maintained many of the enumerated leadership qualities, especially encouragement, vision, good communication, engagement and influence, throughout his time as the British prime minister. However, everybody naturally has his own set of weaknesses, and for Churchill, he sometimes got too involved in detail, making it difficult for him to look at the bigger picture. Also, he was known to change his strategy from time to time, which caused frustration among his colleagues.
So, what leadership traits did Churchill demonstrate? Well, he is often described as being a charismatic and transformational leader. According to experts, this type of leader communicates his vision in an expressive way. For Churchill, his strong communication skills were called upon during the Second World War, where he was required to inspire people, which he did. Being a man of his people, Churchill delivered inspiring speeches that encouraged the people in the UK to be hopeful and courageous in times of despair and was a visionary who brought about a significant change.
Vision, which is the ability to imagine enhanced and diverse conditions to be achieved, need to be believed in by the people to be effective. As for Churchill’s vision, it was self-preservation and preservation of Western civilization and free governments against the ever-advancing sources of dictatorship and authority. He did not just hate tyranny, but despised it, and when Adolf Hitler became a force in Nazi Germany that is ready to invade Britain, Churchill stood out as the only man the nation trusted.
To become a charismatic leader, one should gain trust, and the failure to do so would see no one willing to carry out the vision. If Churchill’s people did not believe in him and trust his objectives to defend the country against the invading Nazis, there would be is no way that Britain would have defeated Hitler’s regime.
Churchill’s style of leadership was bold and decisive, where he always knew what he and his people wanted to achieve and found ways to fulfill his goals. He was also able to boost his charismatic skills by making an impressive appearance, refining himself with tall hats, bow ties and cigars, which became his trademark, so to speak. Such appearance alone has portrayed a charismatic image to people around him, even gaining him more credibility.
Like any other type of leader, Churchill has its distinguishable leadership traits that made him an influential and respected figure in history. These are:
During World War II, Churchill was a visible leader, who was often seen visiting bombed houses and factories, speaking with people. It was this warm trait that consolidated the British people, where some of them who interacted with the prime minister saying after, “We can do just about anything!” Churchill knew the value of speech, and despite not being a natural orator, he worked on his skills and slowly made his influence felt in every corner of the Allied Forces.
As an outspoken critic, Churchill was accused, at one point, of being a warmonger when he foresaw the imminent war coming to Britain. However, he portrayed himself as a lone voice that is calling for re-armament against Germany in the early 1930s, and on September 3, 1939, the Britons declared war against the invaders after it attacked Poland.
A dedicated man, Churchill was a soldier, war correspondent, writer and a statesman, who was passionate about the betterment of his country, regardless of criticisms, good and bad. Of course, his passion, which was more than just winning the war, would be shown later in his career. As a great writer, he published a great deal of books, including “The River War”, which is a biography of his father, a story of his ancestry and his memoirs of the war that covered 6 volumes. Aside from this, he also took up painting as pastime during the war.
A great leader will have visions and is not shy of showing them to his followers. Apparently, having a clear goal is as vital as any weapon you would bring to war. It is a powerful tool that can be used in times of chaos and adversity. As for Churchill’s vision, it is “total victory”. He was one of the first advocates of the “V” sign, which he used it to rally for victory.
Courage is considered to be an essential skill that any leader could have, and Churchill held a very tough post during the war. Even more difficult are the decisions he had to make to carry on until the very end.
All of a great leader’s characteristics would be meaningless, unless they are put into action. Churchill did not stop working, which is evident when he put stickers on orders that state, “Action This Day”. After France collapsed, he was concerned that they would pass over their battle ships to Germany, coercing him to initiate the attack on the Battle of Oran. This just shows how serious Churchill was to carry on—no surrender!
Leadership exists in various forms in any person, where essentially, he is bound on a condition to use it or not. While there are some who can be called good leaders, there is only a few who can be considered great, and Winston Churchill is one of these elite few.