Generally, leadership is a highly valued and sought commodity. Many traits make a good leader. In most cases, good leadership is tied to creativity and change (Puccio et al., 2010). In other words, effective leadership embodies creativity spirit through adaptive and flexible thinking a change is introduced. Leadership has many definitions that change over time. The most used definition states leadership as a process in which a person influences others to achieve a common goal. Leadership as a process means that it is not a characteristic or trait residing in an individual (Strait, 2020). rather, it is a transactional event between followers and leaders (Northouse, 2019). Process implies that the leader is affected and affects the followers. Defining this term this way makes it available to everyone without restrictions to the formally designated group leaders. Among the greatest leaders in history is Winston Churchill of the United Kingdom. This man is often described as a transformational and charismatic leader. Thus, this paper reflects various leadership aspects referencing Winston Churchill.
Winston Churchill Leadership Styles
Winston Churchill was an inspirational leader who led Britain to victory during world war 2. He served as a conservative prime minister in the mid-20th century. Before then, Churchill has served as a conservative member of parliament for Oldham in 1900 (History of Sir Winston Churchill – GOV.UK, n.d.). As a mister for defense, Churchill was active both in diplomatic and administrative functions on prosecuting the war efforts in Britain. Being a man of people, Churchill gave inspiring speeches that greatly encouraged people to retain hope and courage during the despair period.
Churchill had a great vision for his country and people as a leader. Vision is the ability to imagine diverse and enhanced conditions that need to be achieved and believed effective. Everyone has a vision in life. Knowing one’s life vision allows individuals to establish goals and set expectations for success. In other words, knowing personal expectations that need accomplishment creates a safe journey towards success. Churchill’s vision was preserving western governments, self-preservation, and free government against dictatorship and authority ever-advancing sources (Lim, 2020). Churchill hated tyranny. When Adolf Hitler, with his Nazi army, was ready to attack Britain, he stood out as one man the nation trusted. Thus, it was through Churchill’s vision mindset that led to the victory of Britain against the enemies.
Churchill was a charismatic leader. Charismatic leadership is portrayed by a leader who utilizes communication skills, charm, and persuasiveness to lead and influence others. Charismatic leaders are usually regarded as valuable within organizations facing struggles or crises. An individual needs to gain trust to become a charismatic leader. A failure to gain this trust demotivates the willingness to carry out the vision. Churchill was a constant charmer, encouragement, and motivator of his people during the period of a great war (Lim, 2020). If his people never believed in him and trusted his vision and objectives to defend the nation from enemies, Britain would not have defeated the Nazi invasions.
According to Peterson (2018), good leadership requires an individual to be bold and decisive. In this case, Churchill had already adopted this leadership style during his reign. Churchill always knew what his people wanted to fulfill and formulated ways to achieve goals. He boosted his charismatic skills by making impressive appearances, refining himself with hats and cigarettes. These appearances made him gain more credibility.
According to Ardueser and Lehenbauer (2020), a good leader can influence change. Churchill had distinguishable leadership characteristics that made him a respected and influential historical figure as any other leader. Among the leadership traits portrayed by Churchill were;
Churchill was a visible leader when the country was facing a crisis. He frequently visited destroyed factories and houses and spoke with the victims. Besides, Churchill used open, honest, and direct communication. As a leader, he constantly faced criticism on the poor progress of the war. However, Churchill forced the issue by demanding a formal vote of confidence. Amid the crisis, Churchill preferred to deliver bad news to the house of commons and allies personally. He communicated his mind, and various strategies were formulated to help in the war through this communication skill. He was always open and clear instead of sending secret, hidden messages. Churchill offered his honest ideas, opinion, thoughts, and feelings, sharing his messages with those he thought would help in the situation.
The lesson derived from Churchill’s leadership is that good communication is a core function when leading people. Effective leadership and effective communication are intertwined. According to Mattone (n.d.), good communication is mandatory for effective leadership. Leaders need to be skilled communicators in countless relationships at the community, group, and organization levels to attain goals through others. Additionally, leaders require to be intentional and purposed on effective communication. They need to understand when and how to communicate and select the appropriate mode for the listeners. There are usually four communication context types: conversing, writing, facilitating, and presenting (Leading Effectively Staff, 2020). As Churchill did, leaders must excel in all of these writing contexts.
I have proven that communication is a key to good leadership in my experience as a project leader in my school. I have realized that being a good communicator with authenticity and listening skills is the key to getting people together for a common goal. My school’s project was a success because I understood my group members’ feelings and attitudes. I brought them together and were navigated all the challenges as a team. Therefore, good and open communication is an ingredient to effective leadership.
According to Jämsä (2017), passion is a rigid inclination towards a task that other individuals might find important and invest their energy and time. Churchill has been widely recognized as a dedicated man. He was a writer, statesman, correspondent, and soldier who had a great passion for the betterment of his nation regardless of constant criticism. Churchill’s passion went beyond winning wars which would be displayed later in his career. Churchill published around five books, such as The River War (Churchill, n.d.). The River War detailed the biography of his father, his ancestry, and memoirs of war covered in six volumes (Runyan, 2016). Moreover, Churchill was a painter, and painting was his pastime activity.
I have realized that successful individuals in leading and influencing others are usually passionate. Thus, having a passion trait is a critical factor for a good leader as people prefer following leaders passionate about life and the future. A true passion requires an individual to do something that aligns with their purpose and uses their strength. Indeed, a passionate leader experiences many positive things as passion brings energy, helps in creating change and movement, drives the vision, increases influence, and opens doors to success. Through Churchill’s passion, Britain was confident in the war leading to their victory. Therefore, a good leader needs to be passionate in life and the future for effective leadership.
Kudret et al. (2018) postulated that self-monitoring in a person’s regulation, observation, and control of one’s expressive behavior is guided by situational and social cuesAn important aspect of Churchill’s success was the self-criticism trait. He often claimed that in every night, he would try himself by counting martial to determine if he had done anything effective during the day. Additionally, Churchill sought all the advice and feedback from his subordinates and colleagues. At the moment, one of his aides praised him, saying that he always took every criticism very meekly. Churchill always wanted the full critical value from his subordinates.
I have understood that self-monitoring traits allow individuals to regulate and monitor self-presentations, behaviors, and emotions in response to social situations and environments. This trait allows individuals to be aware of their behaviors and their impacts on the environment. At the same time, the self-monitoring trait allows a person to modify behaviors to respond to situational, social, and environmental variables (Cherry, 2021). Individuals high in self-monitoring well-adapt and conform to different situations, whereas those with low self-monitoring tend to behave according to internal feelings and needs.
I have come across a person with a self-monitoring trait-like Churchill. This individual was the manager of a company I worked for as an intern. This manager was one of a kind in his leadership. In most cases, he displayed his self-monitoring trait by saying things publicly in the meetings to garner approval or attention from employees and other staff. Additionally, he found it easy to imitate others’ behavior that he believed directed the company towards success. Moreover, this manager often changed his opinion to win others’ favor. Finally, this manager constantly looked at other individuals in social situations to determine what to do. Every employee in this company loved him for these characters. Therefore, the self-monitoring trait is vital for effective leadership in any context.
Hold A Proper Attitude
Being optimistic is the key to the “can do” attitude vital for successful leadership. However, many organizations have become subject to the inertia that leads to it cannot be done notion. Nevertheless, Churchill never had a negative attitude. According to one of his aides, his supreme talent was in goading others into offering their cherished reasons for failing to do anything at all. When to about delays in the shipbuilding in 1939, he sent a memo to his senior administrators which condemned contractors’ claims that the ships could not be constructed (Wilson, n.d.). He motivated them, arguing that he has witnessed many ships built before when full efforts are applied and every contrivance and resource utilized. In 1910, Churchill made remarks that he was among the individuals who believed that the world would continue becoming better. In his remarks, he constantly deplored negative thinking. All will come right was among his frequently used phrases during the darkest days of the second world war. Rarely, Churchill ended a wartime speech without an optimistic note drawn from an English poet.
Churchill’s character of having a proper attitude has taught me that having a positive psychological attitude is a vital thing to develop in life as a leader. Better health, more energy, a greater chance at success, and a happier life exhibit how vital having a proper attitude can be. The attitude an individual has in life determines the positive changes one can make in life.
From childhood, I have been a person with a positive attitude. I never believe in impossibilities, and this attitude has made me reach where I am today. I have faced several challenges as I grew up, but they never limited me from pursuing my goals in life, thanks to the proper attitude I possess. I came to realize that thinking optimistically trains the mind to eliminate any negative thought, and a person starts perceiving the world in a new light.
Focused and Prepared
Winston Churchill was never a stranger to having stress. Stress is usually an issue that every leader faces. People close to him often marveled at how he was calm even during the most terrifying and trying circumstance. His main way of dealing with constant stress and maintaining focus was never hurrying things up. His calmness in times of crisis and commotion imparted confidence to his subordinates and colleagues. Moreover, this calmness acted as the key to his huge productivity. Churchill believed that hastiness would deter his concentration, disturb his priorities, and discourage him from following a consistent work strategy. His seeming leisure and tranquility were closely related to his immerse concentration powers and were the cornerstone of his success. For Churchill, being prepared had several meanings depending on the situation. This preparedness includes reviewing materials, holding preparatory conversations, and getting abundant rest.
I have realized that the primary task of leadership is directing attention. In this case, leaders are required to focus their attention. They should filter out all the distractions that might limit the execution of their responsibilities (Goleman, 2013). The traits of focus need to be accompanied by preparedness and awareness. Focusing constructively on oneself and others assists the leaders in cultivating the emotional intelligence elements.
In conclusion, leadership has many definitions that have evolved over time. In the latest definition, it is referred to as a process implying that it is neither a trait nor characteristic but a transactional event happening between followers and leaders. Winston Churchill is among the widely recognized leader with the effective leadership traits that led Britain to victory in the second world war. Among these traits include good communication, passion, having a proper attitude, self-monitoring, and being focused and prepared. Leaders are required to possess these traits to drive objectives toward success.
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