Great Leaders of the Past: Winston Churchill
Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill had a long career as an English politician and is a role model of what a great leader can be and do.
It wasn’t always easy for Churchill. In the early days of his career he was often humiliated and famously ignored when he warned the entire world of the impending danger that was the rise of Nazism and Adolf Hitler.
He was born in 1874 into a aristocratic family as a direct descendant of the Dukes of Marlborough. He served in the British Army in Cuba, India and Sudan, and by 1900 was in politics. Churchill had many jobs as a rose in power and standing, and by the start of World War I he took over full responsibility for the air defense of Britain.
During the days leading up to World War II Churchill was a staunch critic of then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain’s appeasement policy towards Hitler. Right before the infamous Munich Agreement Churchill wrote that the British government was faced with a choice between “war and shame” and since they had chosen “shame” they would get war later, but on much less favorable terms.
When WW II started for England on September 3, 1939 Churchill was appointed to the same position he had at the onset of WW I, First Lord of the Admiralty. He went on to become Prime Minister in 1940, a position he held until 1945, and then again from 1951 until 1955, but it was during WW II that his incomparable talent to lead really showed itself.
One of his speeches, delivered in June 1940, demonstrates the type of politician he was:
… we shall fight in France, 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.
Churchill led the British Empire to its greatest victory against the most difficult odds. With Churchill at the helm Britain dared to say no to Hitler when the rest of Europe fell like dominoes and surrendered to tyranny.
During the battle for Britain, which was fought by the Spit-fire fighter pilots above, Churchill chillingly said of those pilots:
“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.”
Churchill’s words and actions directly led to the defeat of Hitler and tyranny in the world. As such he is a worthy leader to look to for inspiration.