Required by EMBA 656: Leadership and Human Capital
Doctor Joyce Russell
Leader Analysis: Winston churchill
21 February 2011
Leader Analysis: Winston Churchill
Winston Churchill was arguably one of the most significant political leaders in the last century. A soldier, athlete, author, reporter, British politician, and international statesman, Churchill is best known as the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940-1945. He organized and guided British resistance against Nazi Germany’s effort to subdue the European Continent and heavily influenced the subsequent and much larger allied war effort that was eventually victorious over the axis powers. This paper will briefly outline Churchill’s life; discuss attributes of his leadership style; discuss why I selected him, what I hoped to learn in conducting this research, and discuss personal “take-aways”; and, finally, I will identify lessons for managers. Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill was born on November 30, 1874 into the prominent family of Lord Randolph Churchill. He was related to the First Duke of Marlborough-the foremost general in modern British history and the hero of the 1704 Battle of Blenheim. He had a distant relationship with his father and closer, but not close, relationship with his mother. After his father’s death in 1894, he became closer with his mother. He was largely raised by nannies and boarding schools, where he was unruly and a generally poor student. It took a number of tries to be admitted to the Royal Military College at Sandhurst where he graduated in 1894. He actually excelled and graduated with honors - 8th of 150 cadets –as a cavalry officer. In 1896, Churchill experienced his first military deployment to the British Colony of India where he honed his military skills and excelled as a polo player on the regimental team, ultimately leading his regiment to victory in the coveted inter-regimental polo tournament. He also experienced his first taste of combat on the then Indian border against the ancestors of today’s southern Afghan Pashtun tribes. He wrote his first book about this experience, The Malakand Field Force. Bored with garrison living, Churchill finagled an assignment that would allow him to participate in the ongoing British military operations in the Sudan. He fought in the Battle of Omdurman in 1898. He intended to write another book for the purpose of gaining notoriety, which he did about his experiences in Sudan, it was called - The River War. Churchill already a noted reporter and author went to South Africa in 1899 to observe and report on the Second Boer War. He was captured, held prisoner, and later escaped which contributed to his increasing notoriety, yielding two more books, and launching his political career. He was just twenty-five years old when his political career began in 1900 with his election to the House of Commons. He would continue to serve his nation, as a Member of Parliament and as an officer in a number of administrations, for sixty years including two terms as Prime Minister from 1940-1945 and 1951-1955. As Addison’s article suggests, Churchill embroiled himself in the greatest issues of the day, from social, to defense, to foreign policy, leading the most important posts in government and playing significant roles in the direction of British policy during both World War I and World War II. He was elected as a Conservative party Member of Parliament from Oldham. In 1904 Churchill switched parties from the Conservatives to the Liberals, in a political environment where this was unheard of. According to Haffner, “Churchill is the only known example in British parliamentary history of someone who did this and survived unscathed.” He served as President of the Board of Trade, Home Secretary and First Lord of the Admiralty in the run up to World War I. As First Lord of the Admiralty he was responsible for the...