“The empires of the future are the empires of the mind.”
What does it take to be a leader who lives on through history?
It takes someone truly special. Someone who is passionate, charismatic and who, most importantly, devotes their life to working the secrets of effective leadership. For entrepreneurs and business people, leadership is the one trump card that can set you apart in a challenging and competitive environment and help you to become more creative in your approach to daily business issues.
Sir Winston Churchill is generally considered to be one of the best examples of an effective leader. As Prime Minister, he guided Great Britain through the Second World War with courage and strength, thoroughly earning his place in history.
How did he come by this reputation? Certainly not by accident.
Churchill exemplified the seven steps to leadership excellence:
- Elegant and flexible communication.
- Coaching and mentoring.
- Resolving challenges, conflict, complaints and issues.
- Beliefs and values.
- Innovation and creativity.
- Go for gold.
As a communicator, Churchill was barely paralleled in his time. His passion and authenticity when addressing parliament and the public are the traits for which he is most warmly remembered.
Churchill’s speeches are still among the most quoted and most inspirational of any politician.
He was in a unique position when it came to mentoring his people. You most likely work one-on-one with your team. Churchill’s team comprised the whole of the British public in a time of peril. Such responsibility is difficult to fathom.
His job was to build a relationship with the entire country – to communicate and engage with them in the work of creatively solving problems. His goal was to build a “partnership” with them, so that they felt that they were contributing to the success of the war effort.
Can you imagine the problem solving skills required to lead a country through a brutal, global conflict? Churchill worked his way through all of the challenges and conflicts that fell to him, with intelligence and level-headedness.
A lesser man might have buckled under the pressures of leading a country under siege.
From the beginning, Churchill was passionately opposed to Hitler and the Nazi philosophy. The defeat of Hitler was his focus during the war, and every plan and strategy that he put into place reflected this goal. Throughout the war there was pressure from many parties for Churchill to consider treaties with the Germans, and even to capitulate. Yet Churchill was adamant that he would not accept anything less than total Allied victory.
How do you suppose Churchill was able to keep focus during such a troubled time? His secret was that he was clear about his beliefs and values; about the philosophy of the Allies and democracy.
Knowing precisely what he stood for enabled Churchill to stand strong against the Germans, and not be tempted to capitulate even when things were at their worst. Are your convictions as resolute?
Of course, when it came to strategies in war, Churchill had the opportunity to show real innovation. Some of his plans may have seemed startling at the time – this is often the case with innovation. New ideas can elicit confusion in many people, however this is merely a sign that you have created something special. Innovation always carries a risk,
During the war, Churchill was given the nickname “The British Bulldog” by the Russian dictator, Stalin. Does this sound like the title of a wallflower? Someone who takes the easy road and never takes risks?
Of course not. Churchill was as bold as they come.
He was never reckless, not when the lives of British men were at stake. Instead, he managed to tread the line of boldness. He was strong, and fearless in his commitment to his goal. This was the key to his greatness.
Most of us will never experience the extreme burden of responsibility that comes with running a country, let alone one that is in the midst of the bloodiest conflict in human history.
Churchill’s achievements may all be consigned to the history books now, but there is still so much that you can learn from him. His leadership style and skills were brilliant – evident in his outstanding achievements during World War II.
Have you achieved the same heights with your leadership as Churchill?
Probably not, which presents an opportunity. Consider devoting yourself to the seven principles mentioned and you could soon be leading with ease. Churchill had the leadership role thrust upon him. While not necessarily a matter of life and death, businesses nevertheless have a lot at stake. So lead and lead well. It is often the difference between success and mediocrity… or worse.
Steve Gray is a business development strategist, speaker and author of hundreds of articles on leadership, innovation, communication, marketing, management and people potential. He is co-creator of a sell out business CD (Five Ways to Make Your Business a Flying Success) and a co-author of a book on goal setting and success points (Stick To Your Dreams) and a co-creator of a highly successful business website and forum (www.freebusinesstips.com.au). Visit www.stevegray.biz