Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill

Churchill – Bold Lessons in Leadership: Declarative Future Creation, Ego and Charisma

January 24th marked the anniversary of the death of Winston Churchill – arguably one of the greatest leaders Britain or the world has ever produced.  For those of you who do not know him, he was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom during World War 2.  He was instrumental in the victory of the Allies over Germany.

My intention in this article is to not necessarily give answers about leadership, but to pose questions and parallels that may instigate Insight and Imagination on your part – two “I”s that may do more for your leadership and business than straight over simplified answers with no respect for nuance and exceptions to the rule.

Declarative Future Creation

Churchill is an example of the kind of leadership which involves declarative future creation – the ability to say how it is going to go, rather than incrementally building on past information (although of course most great leaders as Churchill did both).  This was probably what a nation (or a business) needs when facing conflict and crisis (or danger) – someone who will step up and say how it is going to go and then make it happen, rather than only cautiously wait for information to determine what to do next.

How often have we as business leaders found ourselves in a position of crisis – where hard decisions had to be made in the most trying of circumstances? I am not advocating an over simplified approach to leadership – balance between driving for a desired future and deep considerations for past and present data should be weighed carefully as time limits would dictate – but perhaps there is a lot more to be said about driving or stimulating a future that we desire to have.

Churchill knew that he had to counter the powerful oratory of Hitler in his own style.  Hitler was advocating one future and Churchill… another.  We can look back with much well due adoration upon the man who gave us the much preferred future (our present).

“We shall go on to the end. We shall fight in France, we shall fight on the seas and oceans, we shall fight with growing confidence …until, in God’s good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old” he said boldly.

All this at a time when tens of thousands of tons of bombs were being dropped on London and other major cities with thousands killed and a million odd homes or buildings destroyed, whilst England was starved of food and rations by the senseless destruction of shipping bringing such supplies from the United States. On top of this, there was mounting pressure from British politicians to negotiate truce with Hitler and to give in to his demands. (There is evidence that Hitler planned on decimating most of the British population once he conquered their land.)

Question to inquire into: How would we as business leaders respond in the face of trying circumstances – any declarative future creation balanced with iterative thinking from current or past data?

Ego: Hitler vs. Churchill

The difference between the both could have been summed up as follows: When Churchill spoke, you felt as if YOU could do ANYTHING.  When Hitler spoke, you felt as if HE could do ANYTHING.

Churchill spoke in common layman language and with a particular sense of humor and irony that people in England readily understood.  Hitler raged and ranted whilst Churchill spoke in measured but simple terms.

How do we in business approach our teams – to have THEM think they can do ANYTHING OR that WE can do ANYTHING?

Charisma: who won in the end?

I tell my clients that people who are charismatic do not care about being charismatic – they are not committed to an agenda, but to a larger aspiration – often admittedly even to them, much larger than themselves.

You could argue for Hitler’s charisma, but in the end, that charisma lost out to hubris, ego and a limited vision for a master race without proclaimed mediocre competing races – whilst Churchill looking to create a more liberated world (albeit with a rather restricted set of colonialized countries) living more or less in harmony with each other.

In business, I invite you to inquire into when we have fallen prey to our own limited visions and righteousness rather than an openness to dialogue and expansive thinking.

To read more articles as this, be sure to check out my blog at

With appreciation for your capacity for bold visions being realized,

Sunil Bhaskaran

Author Cahadmin

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