One layer [of Churchill’s character and personality] was certainly seventeenth century. The eighteenth century in him is obvious. There was the nineteenth century, and a large slice, of course, of the twentieth century; and another, curious layer which may possibly have been the twenty-first. –Clement Attlee
The anniversary of the birth of Sir Winston Churchill is a compelling occasion for reflection.
In a textbook case of projection, a preening popinjay, a BBC news personality called Paxman recently dismissed Churchill as a “ruthless egotist, a chancer, and a charlatan.”
Paxman and many others have speculated that Churchill could not be elected today.
These and other observations imply that Churchill’s leadership example is of limited value in our time. His life and work may provide anecdotes and entertainment, but little elucidation about things that matter.
This is surely wrong.
Winston Churchill’s storied, spectacular career holds numerous lessons for 21st century leaders.
The Great War of 1914-18—it became the First World War only in tragic retrospect—was the seminal event of the 20th century. Its after-effects reverberate in our day.
One might argue that the 20th century actually began with the war in 1914, culminating with the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. If so, then one might characterize World War I as the 75-Year War.
The Great War and its immediate aftermath (including the flu pandemic) consumed 37 million casualties.
As shocking as the absolute number is, consider what it would mean in today’s terms. In 1920 the population of the earth was approaching two billion; by contrast, today that number has passed seven billion. By a conservative accounting, that would translate into more than a hundred million casualties in our time.
At the outset of a new century, it may be useful to reflect upon leadership lessons that the Great War provides.
Just as the war affected aspects of life far beyond the battlefield, its leadership lessons have resonance far beyond wartime.
Theodore Roosevelt stands as one of the greatest leaders in American history.
Theodore Roosevelt on Leadership distills his leadership lessons, so they can be transferred seamlessly into the 21st century.
TR’s timeless example can be put to work in business, finance, the not-for-profit sector, a government agency or the military.
The 10 leadership lessons that follow are a sampler from Roosevelt’s project of self-creation and service.