Churchill and Management Today

L. Douglas Mault

June 2006

While on the Internet researching some quotations from Sir Winston Churchill, I came across the following. The quotations in italics are those of Churchill; the sub-points are, in some cases, adapted from, and in some cases, direct quotes from Ken Camp on whose Web site this was found. Churchill had an extraordinary command of English and an uncanny ability to say much in a few, carefully chosen words.

Although I am clearly not the author, the points made are so strong and valid, I felt compelled to share them with you.

Be Courageous. "Courage is rightly esteemed the first of human qualities because it is the quality which guarantees all others.”

- Seek out challenges and deal with them directly.
- Courage is not confined to the arena of battle; it can be exhibited in our daily work or personal lives.
- A good leader creates a culture where people have the courage to fail because failure is looked upon as a step toward success. Learn from your or their mistakes.
- A demonstration of personal courage can galvanize a team or organization that lacks resolve.
- The longer the odds, the greater the chance personal courage will be requisite for success.

Challenge Convention. "No idea is so outlandish that it should not be considered with a searching but at the same time a steady eye.”

- Keep an open mind.
- What got you here ain’t gonna get you there! As new opportunities or problems arise, remember that structure must follow strategy. Be ready and willing to change.
- Eliminate bureaucracy.
- Be pragmatic and flexible. Change rules and policies when the situation demands it.
- Make sure technology is not spurned by those who do not understand it.

On Speaking and Writing. "Of all the talents bestowed upon men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory ... . He who enjoys it wields a power more durable than a great king. He is an independent force in the world. Abandoned by his party, betrayed by his friends, stripped of his offices, whoever can command this power is still formidable.”

Tune in to your audience.
- Always engage your audience and hence demand something of them
- Read broadly to obtain a sense of history, and read classic books of substance and style. Move beyond business writing. Read Churchill!
- Study and rehearse to become an accomplished public speaker.
- Develop a sense of timing. Master the pause.
- Write the speech yourself and in your own voice.

Be Magnanimous. "I was once asked to devise an inscription for a monument in France. I wrote: ‘In War, Resolution. In Defeat, Defiance. In Victory, Magnanimity. In Peace, Goodwill.”

- Magnanimity breeds trust and loyalty.
- Revenge harms the victor as well as the vanquished.
- Be magnanimous toward those who lack your ability or good fortune.
- Don’t let personal animosities threaten the organization.

Resist Bullies. "If you should be thrown into a quarrel, you should bear yourself so that an opponent may be aware of It ... Pugnacity and will power cannot be dispensed with.”

- Stand up to people through your resilience and flexibility.
- Study opponents in advance so you can anticipate their moves.
- Keep bullies off balance with your humor and sense of dignity.
- Do not take attacks personally.
- The best response to an outrageous insult is often silence.
- Let the weak squabble.

About the Author
L. Douglas Mault is president of the Executive Advisory Institute, Yakima, Wash.