Winston Churchill is by far one of the most outstanding leaders of the twentieth-century who left his mark in politics and leadership. Churchill had the ability to manage political events in the rapidly changing environment between World War I and post World War II. His leadership style was based on vision, charisma and extraordinary speaking skills. Daft defines leadership as "an influence relationship among leaders and followers who intend real changes and outcomes that reflect their shared purposes" (Daft, 2008).
The Free World owes a debt to Winston Churchill for his leadership during a critical time in history that prevailed over Fascism and the desires of Adolph Hitler. Aspiring leaders can learn a lot about Churchill's leadership style and accomplishments throughout his lifetime. Churchill's Characteristics During his lifetime, Churchill was a soldier, writer, politician and statesman whose experiences defined his leadership style. He experienced both success and failure throughout his career which added to his overall character traits.
Winston Churchill was optimistic throughout his life which was the key to his can-do spirit. "People rise to the top because they have the ability to see opportunities where others see problems and can instill in other a sense of hope for the future" (Daft, 2008). During his years of military service, Churchill fought in several wars emerging unscathed despite his constant participation in front line operations. His success on the battlefield provided a sense of invincibility which gave him great courage in his later years.
Throughout his life Winston Churchill fought against all odds in fulfilling his noble destiny. Some of the challenges he had to overcome during his life were: a speech impediment; laziness in school; a permanent limp due to injury; entrance into the military despite failing the entrance exam twice; defeat in the political arena; and military defeat in the Dardanelles. Despite these challenges, Churchill's perseverance was infectious and propelled him to the noble status he desired. Many people have said that after meeting Churchill they believed they could achieve anything thanks to his charisma.
Not only did he demonstrate great courage and perseverance, he also possessed the gift of writing and oratory that inspired a nation. Winston Churchill's leadership traits of optimism, courage, perseverance and charisma were effective due to his personality and life experiences. Leadership traits are largely dependent on personality but can be developed and moderated through experiences in life. "Traits alone are not sufficient to guarantee effective leadership" (Daft, 2008). It's the behavior of the leader that determines effectiveness which can be learned more readily than traits.
Studying leaders from the past like Winston Churchill provides lessons learned that can be utilized in today's dynamic world. Churchill's Priorities Churchill was adept at creating priorities and communicating them both clearly and passionately. He was never considered rigid in his beliefs but flexible as he altered priorities in response to changing situations and inputs from his followers. During World War I, Churchill believed the Prime Minister needed to shift the priority to the army versus the navy due to Russia making a separate peace with Germany.
His sensemaking allowed him to see flaws with the current war strategy and shift assets to where they were needed most and go from a defensive posture to an offensive one. Throughout the Second World War as Prime Minister, Churchill's priority was simply "victory at all cost". He focused his efforts in rallying soldiers, citizens, and Allies in achieving victory through his charismatic leadership. In studying Winston Churchill, his biggest fear became his greatest strength. Due to his speech impediment, he was afraid to speak in public.
However, his perseverance pushed him through his fear and allowed him to become one of the greatest public speakers of all time. Overcoming his shortcomings, Churchill was motivated in succeeding at everything he did and leaving behind a legacy. As daunting as this sounds, Churchill understood the importance of recreation as it was a way to stimulate his mind through a change of pace. Churchill had unusual work habits as he often took naps during the day and working through the night.
Unlike most leaders today, the time he spent was devoted to a blend of rest and relaxation and working at achieving his goals and desires. Winston Churchill's measure of success can be summed up best by his quote "success is the ability to go from failure to failure without losing your enthusiasm". Thanks to his leadership traits, Churchill learned from his mistakes and kept a positive outlook which was instrumental to his overall success. Like Churchill, I have a very optimistic personality and believe in turning my failures into positive experiences to aid in my continued growth as a leader. Churchill's Power
During the World War II, Neville Chamberlain resigned as Prime Minister while Winston Churchill was chosen to take the position. Throughout his tenure as Prime Minister, Churchill exercised referent power due to his charismatic trait. Daft believes referent power "depends on the leader's personal characteristics rather than on a formal title or position and is especially visible in the area of charismatic leadership" (Daft, 2008). Due to his charisma, Churchill was able to tap into the hearts and minds of the British people and utilize them as a resource to successfully defeat Hitler's Nazi regime.
I believe referent power is extremely important in energizing people to overcome near impossible challenges. Learning from leaders like Churchill, I have incorporated some of his actions into my leadership style in order to be more effective at using the five types of power. Churchill's Followers Leadership is about understanding people and the process of getting people to accomplish set tasks or objectives. Great leaders listen to understand, connect on an emotional level with their followers and inspire people to get things done.
Winston Churchill succeeded as a leader during wartime but failed in peacetime by not being able to reflect people's post-war needs. During the wartime years, Churchill had a great relationship with the majority of his followers which comprised of the British soldiers and citizens. His charisma and leadership style empowered the people into achieving greatness. I believe Churchill was a great follower during his soldiering days as a cavalry officer which provided a wealth of experience for him to draw from in his later years.