Classic Leadership Wisdom from Winston Churchill

Everyone knows Winston Churchill is eminently quotable, but not everyone knows he was a superb and prolific writer. One of his most interesting books is Great Contemporaries, a collection of essays on two dozen well-known statesmen, generals, artists, and intellectuals of his day. I especially love his essay on T.E. Lawrence–aka Lawrence of Arabia–whom he knew quite well. It contains one of the best definitions of leadership I’ve ever heard (the last sentence in the following quote):

The impression of the personality of Lawrence remains living and vivid upon the minds of his friends, and the sense of his loss is in no way dimmed among his countrymen. All feel the poorer that he has gone from us … Here was a man in whom there existed not only an immense capacity for service, but that touch of genius which everyone recognizes and no one can define … If he roused himself to action, who should say what crisis he could not surmount or quell? If things were going very badly, how glad one would be to see him come round the corner.

–Winston Churchill, Great Contemporaries, “Lawrence of Arabia”

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About Jocelyn R Davis

Jocelyn Davis is Principal of Seven Learning, a leadership development firm that creates a lasting lift in leaders' effectiveness using classic books, films, and stories.
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