‘One of the men in your entourage, (a devoted friend), has been to me and told me that there is a danger of your being generally disliked…because of your rough, sarcastic and overbearing manner…’
How would you feel if as a leader under huge pressure, you suddenly received a letter from your wife informing you that a subordinate had visited her to complain about your treatment not just of them, but of others? I think most would react rather than contemplate, but leadership is not a reaction it is a contemplated action, and in Clementine Churchill’s heartfelt letter we clearly see a leadership master at work.
‘My Darling Winston, I must confess that I have noticed a deterioration in your manner, and you are not so kind as you used to be.’ Clementine approaches Churchill honestly and courageously. She doesn’t admonish him, but her frankness confirms to Churchill that there must be some truth in her words. ‘It is for you to give the Orders, and if they are bungled…you can sack anyone and everyone.’
To point out a flaw or a mistake is certainly a requirement of great leadership however, Clementine would have proven herself a very poor leader had she simple completed her letter with the negative and offered no recognition of the pressure on Churchill, his position, and offered some form of solution. ‘…with this terrific power, you must combine urbanity, kindness and if possible, Olympic calm.’
Although there is no record of a reply we know from history that from that moment Churchill’s attitude changed and this is confirmed by those who worked closest with him, most notably his longest serving secretary Grace Hamblin who, on the occasion of Churchill’s funeral wrote to Clementine saying:
‘I pondered on what had made this dynamic but gentle character so beloved and respected – and such a wonderful person to work for.’
The leadership example of Clementine as demonstrated in her letter, stands in stark comparison to a similar warning Churchill received from his father Lord Randolph. On successfully passing into Sandhurst Military Academy in 1893, Churchill, in response to his excited letter of examination victory received the following missive:
‘There are two ways of winning in an examination,’ Lord Randolph wrote, ‘one credible and the other the reverse. You have unfortunately chosen the latter method, and appear to be much pleased with your success.’
With no consideration of his son’s feelings, Lord Randolph writes his poison-pen letter, venting his anger over an issue that the reader at first is led to believe is enormous, only to later discover how overrated Lord Randolph’s complaint is.
‘The first extremely discreditable feature of your performance was missing the infantry, for in that failure is demonstrated beyond refutation your slovenly, happy-go-lucky, harum-scarum style of work for which you have always been distinguished at your different schools.’ The letter continues in this style and later the reader discovers that Lord Randolph’s only complaint about Churchill becoming a cavalry officer and not an infantry officer is financial. ‘…by accomplishing the prodigious effort of getting into the Cavalry, you imposed on me an extra charge of some £200 a year…’
Having listed his disappointments, Lord Randolph adds the icing to the cake abandoning his son and stating, ‘I no longer attach the slightest weight to anything you may say…I shall leave you to depend on yourself…because I am certain that if you cannot prevent yourself from leading the idle, useless, unprofitable life you have had during your schooldays and later months, you will become a mere social wastrel…and degenerate into a shabby, unhappy and futile existence.’
Lord Randolph’s intention is to persuade his son to change his ways, but unlike Clementine, he has no interest seeing things from Churchill’s point of view. Lord Randolph has nothing positive to say and no interest in congratulating his son on passing into the Academy, a feat that took Churchill three attempts. Far from offering advice, Lord Randolph abandons Winston offering financial subsistence, but beyond that wanting nothing to do with him. Lord Randolph completely misunderstood Churchill’s needs at that moment. Money may well alleviate the pain of poverty, but the Bible is right that it can never buy love, and all Churchill had ever desired was to feel his father’s love and make him proud.
In contrast to Clementine’s letter, her approach elicited an immediate and positive change as Churchill could feel her heart beating through every painful word she felt compelled to write. Lord Randolph’s diatribe provoked no change in Churchill’s attitude, and no doubt hurt him and widened the gap between father and son.
While one must be prepared to point out mistakes and failings in our followers, we must show compassion and humanity. Don’t pussy-foot around the issue, tackle it head-on as Clementine did in 1940. Lord Randolph’s letter may well have had a certain truth to it, but his approach was a reaction, while Clementine’s was a contemplated action. Clementine achieve her aim in writing, Lord Randolph achieved nothing.
CLEMENTINE CHURCHILL: “A Blessing in Disguise”
When Winston Churchill lost the 1945 General Election it was Clementine who came to Churchill’s aide, just as she had done after the Gallipoli disaster of 1915
‘I could never have succeeded without her.’
Winston S. Churchill
“I could never have succeeded without her!”
Winston S. Churchill
We all know the expression, ‘pride cometh before a fall,’ but even in our modern-age where women have thankfully expanded their horizons beyond that of a housewife, some men would feel intimidated or be laughed at if, in the face of injustice, their wife came sharply to their defense. Winston Churchill most-definitely had an ego-driven pride, and in his youth was often accused of arrogance, but wisely he refused to allow this early trait to get in the way of good sense. Always encouraged by kindness from whatever quarter, Churchill welcomed the active input and positive interference of his mother Jennie, and later Clementine.
In 1915, Churchill, as First Lord of the Admiralty, became the scapegoat for the disastrous Dardanelles Campaign, designed to break the deadlock of the First World War, and force Turkey out of the war. Though he backed the plan, and it was certainly a sound idea, it was the failures of others that cost the lives of so many. Prime Minister Asquith, lost the majority support of Parliament and was forced to seek a coalition with the Conservative opposition, but the price was the head of Winston Churchill. Betrayed by his Liberal colleagues, his Prime Minister and apparent friend Lloyd-George, Churchill was unceremoniously dismissed from the Admiralty, and reluctantly accepted a much lesser position with no say in the course of a war he believed he still had much to contribute to. Both furious and devastated, Clementine Churchill penned a warning to Asquith, pointing out that ‘Winston may in your eyes & in those with whom he has to work have faults, but he has a supreme quality which I venture to say very few of your present or future Cabinet possess…If you throw Winston overboard, you will be committing an act of weakness and your Coalition Government will not be as formidable a War machine as the present Government.’ Sadly Asquith ignored the warning and Clementine discovered later that her heartfelt letter became the butt of party jokes, often read ‘aloud at the luncheon table, with amused relish.’
Although history does not record whether Churchill was aware of the letter or its contents before Clementine sent it, Asquith and his entourage were perfectly willing to claim he did. However, whether correct or not, Clementine was proved right in her warning, and the Coalition Government did suffer. Churchill deeply hurt, dejected and depressed, requested a posting to the French Front, where he served bravely alongside many who were doomed to never return to England.
There were definitely two great rays of sun that shone from this disaster, the first was the unequivocal demonstration of Clementine’s love and devotion to Winston, but the second, of equal importance, was that Churchill got to see firsthand, the devastation of trench warfare, and as a result avoided it at all costs during the Second World War.
NEXT WEEK: June 1940, the newly appointed Prime Minister Winston Churchill begins to feel the pressure of his office and the failing defence of Britain and Europe against Hitler and his gang of gutter-snipes. Together we will be taking a look at how Clementine supported Churchill at a time when our country most needed him at his best.
CLEMENTINE CHURCHILL: The Voice of Reason
I hope you will forgive me if I tell you something
that I feel you ought to know…
Despite their visibility and obvious function, the tires of a car are ironically the most overlooked part, according-to Firestone Complete Auto Care manager, Tom Hix. “They are,” he said, “crucial to the vehicle’s performance, safety and even fuel economy.” Looking through the history books at some of our greatest world leaders, it is amazing to discover that historians have readily raised the Winston Churchill’s, Ronald Reagan’s, even Margaret Thatcher’s upon pedestals of greatness, while sadly overlooking the equal importance of their spouses, many of whom were crucial to their partner’s performance, safety, and even health awareness. Until the advent of biographies by my Great Aunt Mary Soames, Jack Fishman, and now Sonia Purnell, my great-grandmother Clementine was one such spouse, relegated to a mere mention in books, but often in the understated or implied address as the wife of Sir Winston Churchill.
With my soon to be released speech CLEMENTINE CHURCHILL: The Power Behind the Throne, I wanted to offer a short insight into my journey to redress the balance, as I explored for myself the woman historians so easily dismissed. Over the coming weeks, NEVER SURRENDER! will be focusing on the life of Winston Churchill, and how intricate my great-grandmother was to his success and legacy.
“I could never have succeeded without her”
Winston S. Churchill
Join me for next week’s Churchill Bulletin release as we look at how Clementine rushed to her husband’s defence over Gallipoli, and the advice and support she gave Churchill while he served in the trenches of France.
CLEMENTINE CHURCHILL: Their Darkest Hour
A Fight for Right, Not Might
“It is a fine game to play the game of politics,
and it is well worth a good hand before really plunging.”
Winston S. Churchill
On Monday I had the pleasure of going to the Business Excellence Forum and Awards. We heard from some great business leaders such as Keys To The Vault expert Keith Cunningham, BNI founder Dr. Ivan Misner, and Travis Bell, The Bucket List Guy.
Keith, like Warren Buffett, maintains that each business needs a scoreboard, and the scoreboard gives you vital optics so you can plot your path to success. Buffett believed that if you can’t read the scoreboard, you can’t tell the winners from the losers. Sound advice for us all, but reflecting on Churchill in his time, imagine how much more important that scoreboard would have been.
If you have ever visited Churchill’s underground bunker: The Cabinet War Rooms, you would agree that potentially one of the most understated rooms is the Map Room. Peering through the glass, one is immediately struck by the cramped space in this tiny room that was of such great significance. The bank of corded telephones in the centre channel of the desk, where up to five operators would sit incessantly taking and making calls, brings the technology advancements of today into perspective. Imagine how busy they would have been, especially during the Blitz! For me, it is incredible to think that Churchill masterminded the victory in 1945 with one computer (courtesy of Alan Turing), basic communications, and maps.
This world map represented the scoreboard Churchill frequently checked to strategically plan his next move. Keith told us that the key to using the business scoreboard is knowing how to interpret it. A scoreboard gives you numbers, but those numbers then need to be converted into actions, and they determine whether you are on the right track, or need to make a course adjustment.
There were many battles during the Second World War, and at times we were badly losing in the field. In those moments, Churchill would view his scoreboard, convert the numbers to determine how his strategy should adjust.
In business today we all need that scoreboard. As leaders we need to know how to measure and how to convert those numbers into strategy. Our scoreboard will show us the reality of how our product is being welcomed in the market place, and how are team is performing. ‘When you learn the tools that work, you get the results that are possible.’ – Keith Cunningham.
“ARE YOU KEEPING SCORE?” is part of the Lead Like Churchill Series
This week’s post will be short and sweet. Considering the day, I don’t believe I could add anything more to one of the most beautiful love letters I have read between my great-grandparents. In August 1908, one month before they were married, Clementine wrote:
Don’t you sometimes find you meet the most interesting people in the most unexpected places and, when you part, you feel your life has been affected for the better? This week, I have. In South Carolina, where I was speaking at the Rotary District Conference.
Bill is pitched as a hypnotist, and although he is a qualified hypnotist, initially making a living on stage, today he practices as a much more engaging human lie detector. Based-off the scientific research of Dr. Paul Ekman, serialized by Fox in the crime drama, Lie to Me, Bill creates a very thought-provoking performance that gives the illusion he can read your mind. However, Bill admits he cannot, and holds dubious the claims of those who can. Rather, he uses finely-honed skills of observation to interpret the facial expressions and body language of others.
Asking an audience member to write something they love on a piece of paper, Bill then asks five questions and from those extrapolates what the person wrote. It was fun to watch, and from the performance that was witnessed last night, I can see how easy it would be for someone with Bill’s talent to dispense with integrity and resolve to be rich by reducing his hard-studied, respectable profession to the depths of a personal get-rich-quick scheme. However, as he told me: “I’m not a con-man, and don’t like those who are.”
Today we see many different sorts of leaders rising. Some wave the banner of peace and goodwill while playing an audience for their own self-gratification, narcissism and personal gain. However, as we discussed a few weeks ago there are others, like Bill, who grasp the great privilege the title of Leader bestows, and recognize that with the sometimes enormous power and influence they have, responsibility and integrity are not options, but rather, requirements.
If courage and faith are necessary characteristics of leadership, integrity must also be incorporated to complete the full circle and steer leaders from self, to genuine service.
Attempting great leadership while lacking one of the aforementioned principles is like removing one side of a house of cards and expecting it to stand. Courage, faith, and integrity are the foundations on which the greatest leaders have led their countries, companies and people to achieve feats that few, sometimes none thought possible.
The incredible code breaker Alan Turing and his famous Bombe, the model on which computers began. President Kennedy, who, way before the means and feasibility of space exploration had been addressed, stood confidently in Texas and told the world that a man would go to the moon in that decade. Or the teacher who on Monday, will inspire a student to make a difference, whether it be considered major or minor by our standards.
All those I have mentioned were or are leaders, but it is their integrity that, in the case of Turning and Kennedy changed the world.
For the teacher, integrity is even more vital. Teachers have a greater responsibility than others, because without their knowledge and influence, Turing would never have been capable of giving the Allies an edge to defeat Hitler, and those amazing minds at NASA would never have gained the knowledge to think outside the scientific box and persevere through failure.
If you want to be beloved and secure, lead with integrity. Greatness comes through service above self.
If you would like to know more about Thought Reader, Actor and Consultant Bill Gladwell, please visit: Bill Gladwell Live.
If you would like to know more about the Lead Like Churchill leadership course, please visit: Lead Like Churchill.
It’s great being at the top, but with ‘great power there is great responsibility,’ as Winston Churchill demonstrated during the Second World War.
On July 3, 1940, Churchill gave the hardest order of his career; to sink the French Fleet. Faced with a choice to turn on our former allies, or allow their navy to fall into enemy hands, thus surrendering the battle on the seas, Churchill pleaded with the Vichy Government to see reason. Britain was outnumbered in both men and munitions, and the French navy was the fourth largest in the world. We desperately needed the fleet, but the French Government was scared of a German backlash if they sailed into our ports. Churchill sent a memo to the leaders who now represented the falling Government, either send us the ships or scuttle them. The request was ignored, and so Churchill responded in the only way he could. ‘If you refuse these fair offers, I must, with profound regret, require you to sink your ships within six hours.’ Churchill warned that, ‘failing the above, I have the orders of His Majesty’s Government to use whatever force may be necessary to prevent your ships from falling into German or Italian hands.’ The French Government didn’t believe him, evidently they hadn’t heard his Never Surrender speech. And so, as the leader of Great Britain, responsible for ensuring the best opportunity for victory as possible, Churchill sent the order to sink the fleet, which he later described as ‘a hateful decision, the most unnatural and painful in which I have ever been concerned.’ Cabling to Vice-Admiral Somerville, on whose shoulders the responsibility fell, Churchill wrote: ‘You are charged with one of the most disagreeable and difficult tasks that a British Admiral has ever been faced with, but we have complete confidence in you and rely on you to carry it out relentlessly.’ The cable was received, and reluctantly Somerville followed it. The French Fleet was sunk, and this action ensured that Britain, now alone in the fight, had the best chance to continue on.
Winston Churchill showed great courage in the risks he took by giving that order. Firstly, Somerville, or indeed any of the troops could have refused to fire upon Britain’s former ally. But they didn’t, not because Somerville was simply following orders, as was the Nuremberg excuse, but because Somerville knew the nature of his leader, and he knew, as Churchill did, it was necessary. Secondly, Churchill risked dissent in Parliament and throughout the world. This action might have been considered a war crime, however, Churchill had done his best to warn the French Government, and had also sought to get as many men off the ships before firing upon them. Thirdly, the backlash he risked from the French was his greatest concern. This was an act of war. Churchill feared that by the following day Hitler would have found a new ally, as Britain later found with Russia. However, shocked though the world was by the action, none of these fears came to fruition. Parliament hailed Churchill a hero, and ‘in a village near Toulon dwelt two peasant families, each of whom had lost their sailor son by British fire at Oran,’ Churchill recounted a story told him sometime later. ‘A funeral service was arranged to which all their neighbors sought to go. Both families requested that the Union Jack should lie upon the coffins side by side with the Tricolour.’
As leaders our responsibility is to act for the greater good of our people and organizations. Whether you represent a small or large entity, Churchill’s leadership demands that we put their interests before our own, even if we do face a possible backlash. If our course is honourable, there should be no fear in the response. Critics will be few, and they will be silenced by the outcome.
Epictetus tells us ‘the proper work of the mind is the exercise of choice,’ the choice to do and think right. ‘Refusal,’ to give into temptation. ‘Yearning,’ to strive to be better. ‘Repulsion,’ of lies, negativity and bad influences. ‘Preparation,’ to look beyond our decisions to the future consequences, good or bad, and prepare for them. ‘Purpose,’ to act with clarity and holding morality above all else. And finally, Epictetus reminds us that we must employ ‘assent,’ so we may be ‘free of deception about what’s inside and outside our control.’ These are some of the greatest building blocks of Churchillian leadership, and represent seven functions Churchill applied his mind to with every decision, especially when his choice affected others.
As we go about our daily lives, let’s reflect on Epictetus’ advice, and prepare ourselves for the hard decisions we face not only in business, but with our families and friends. We can all Lead Like Churchill, and take those tough decisions for the greater good.
READY TO TAKE THE TOUGH DECISIONS?, is part of the Lead Like Churchill leadership course, designed to inspire current and fledgling leaders to Churchillian greatness. To find out more about the course, please visit: http://leadlikechurchill.org/LLC, call on: (832) 564-3698 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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“I will keep constant watch over myself and-most usefully-will put each day up for review. For this is what makes evil-that none of us looks back upon our own lives. We reflect upon only that which we are about to do. And yet our plans for the future descend from the past.”
– Seneca, Moral Letters, 83.2
Lucius Seneca reminds us that our future is inherently connected to our past, and Churchill certainly agreed. Believing wholeheartedly that ‘If we look back on our past life, we shall see that one of its most usual experiences is that we have been helped by our mistakes,’ Churchill often reflected on the choices he made, and sometimes with great regret; the disaster of the 1915 Gallipoli Campaign comes to mind. Churchill’s good intentions during the First World War led him to push forward on an action that has since been noted as one of the worst military disasters in history. The loss of over three-hundred-thousand lives not only sent a shockwave throughout the country, but it threw Churchill from his pinnacle, and threatened to end his political career completely. However, Churchill learnt from his mistake and ensure that when presented with a similar opportunity during the Second World War he not only knew the correct facts, but would often visit the site himself and consult with the commanders in the field.
If we as leaders want to remain at the top, supported by our troops in the field, we too must examine our past. We must be critical of ourselves, but not with the intention of recrimination, instead in the sentiment of Churchill: to improve, for perfection’s sake.
What is your Gallipoli?
Over this next week, I’d like to ask you to consider that question. What challenges have you faced in your past, and what have you learnt from them?
Extract from: Lead Like Churchill: Courage, Faith, Integrity
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“…democracy is the worst form of Government”
For this week’s digest of Never Surrender!, I thought I might borrow from the title of John Lukacs book: Five Days in London, as I felt, being five days out from the inauguration of a new US President, the title was appropriate, and some would also say the subject-matter. So, with five days to go in a country divided, what advice might Winston Churchill offer us?
“Many forms of Government have been tried, and will be tried in this world of sin and woe. No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…”
Echoing the thoughts of many, this election-cycle has indeed been one of the most divisive in the great history of the United States, because of the attitudes and reactions that the two candidates words surfaced. By-definition an election should divide, but ONLY on opinion!
In 1938, Churchill made some remarks in Manchester, that I feel are very appropriate: “…what is the purpose which has brought us all together? It is the conviction that the life of [the United States], her glories and message to the world, can only be achieved by national unity, and national unity can only be preserved upon a cause which is larger than the nation itself.”
A country divided against itself is as ineffectual as a government of the same. When asked to form a government in 1940, Churchill recognized that we needed national unity, because there was no other way we could defeat the overwhelming forces against us. Burying the past by including adversaries in his War Cabinet, Churchill united the country in the name of a cause that he saw was greater than our own national interests. Defeating Hitler was vital for the preservation of Christian Civilization, but unity was the only way to achieve that.
The United States and all that it stands for is greater that either the Office of the President, or indeed the inhabitant. The Founding Fathers of this wonderful nation ensured that it was not left to the Executive to maintain the dream they gave their blood, toil, tears and sweat for. America’s founders instilled the power of choice in you, and ensured that you, the people they represented, maintained that power.
Many are still saying that President-Elect Trump is “Not my President”, Sorry to burst your bubble, but he is, whether you like it or not. The votes have been cast and counted, and in your election system, the next President has been chosen. Now it’s down to you to determine what will happen to this country for the next four years. You can either put down your weapons, and whether a Trump or Clinton supporter, get behind the Office, and ensure President-Elect Trump runs things in the country’s best interests, or you can be divisive. If you choose the former, America will continue from strength to strength, but if you choose the latter, the United States will continue as the Divided States, and may well “…sink into the abyss of a new Dark Age.”
Remember the wise words of Rome’s last great Emperor Marcus Aurelius: “All you need are these: certainty of judgement in the present moment; action for the common good in the present moment; and an attitude of gratitude in the present moment for anything that comes your way.”
Aurelius reminds us that control of our perceptions, focus of our actions, and a willingness to accept that which is outside our control are the three vital philosophies which should always govern our decisions.
The election is over and the President has been chosen; its out of our control. But still within our power is the choice we make on January 20th. We can either unite as Churchill advises, or divide the country as he warns.
In the words of Longfellow, quoted by Churchill to President Roosevelt in 1941:
Sail on, O Ship of State!
Sail on, O Union, strong and great!
Humanity with all its fears,
With all the hopes of future years,
Is hanging breathless on thy fate!
UPCOMING THIS WEEK
“Many forms of Government…” – http://hansard.millbanksystems.com/commons/1947/nov/11/parliament-bill
“…what is the purpose which has brought us all together?” – CHURCHILL, Sir Winston S.: Into Battle, p.12
“…sink into the abyss” – LANGWORTH, Richard, Churchill by Himself, p.21
“All you need are these…” – HOLIDAY/HANSELMAN: The Daily Stoic, p.12
Sail on, O Ship of State! – LANGWORTH, Richard, Churchill by Himself, p.22
“I speak to you for the first time as Prime Minister in a solemn hour for the life of our country, of our empire, of our allies, and, above all, of the cause of Freedom.” – Winston S. Churchill
There are some amazing speechwriters out there today, it’s quite a talent. However, the distinction between a good or great speech is vast, and interestingly, no different to conversation.
I’m sure, like all of us, you’ve been to a boring party that would never end, only to find yourself engaged by one individual amongst the mass who kept you enthralled for hours. When one heard Winston Churchill speak, that was the reaction from most. Spellbound by his words, like a bear to honey, people hung on every syllable.
So, what made Churchill’s speeches engaging to listen to? The answer is simple: one theme.
If you analyse any of my great-grandfather’s speeches: Be Ye Men of Valour, or Blood, Toil, Tears and Sweat, a common theme: hope, runs throughout, and it’s singular. Speeches and conversations may have several parts, but great and engaging speeches and conversations have a single focus, a single message, a clothes hanger for the dressings of those parts.
The key to successful conversations and speeches is simple, choose one simple theme. So, WHAT’S YOUR THEME?
JANUARY 18, 2017
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CHURCHILL: The 20th Century’s Greatest Leader
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