Winston Churchill served as the prime minister in Britain during World War II and is credited with turning almost certain defeat into victory. His leadership was legendary, both during and after the war, but it was in the getting there – the journey to becoming one of the greatest leaders in history – where we can learn the most.

Believe in Yourself  

Churchill had enormous confidence in himself. He believed he was destined for greatness and did not allow anything to deter him from his destiny. Cecelia Sandys, Churchill’s granddaughter and author of We Shall Not Fail – The Inspiring Leadership of Winston Churchill, explained, “Inspirational leaders are beacons of hope. They project an aura of confidence and resolve that is quite literally contagious. Churchill had this gift.”

“Before you can inspire with emotion, you must be swamped with it yourself. Before you can move their tears, your own must flow. To convince them, you must yourself, believe.”

Have a Clear Vision

In the book God & Churchill: How the Great Leader’s Sense of Divine Destiny Changed His Troubled World and Offers Hope for Ours, written by Churchill’s great-grandson Jonathan Sandys,  he described Churchill’s belief in his “divine destiny.” At age 16, Churchill already had a vision for his purpose in life: “This country will be subjected somehow to a tremendous invasion . . . I shall be in command of the defences of London . . . it will fall to me to save the Capital, to save the Empire.” Churchill not only believed in his own destiny but had an exceptional talent for building momentum, creating support, and being clear about what must be accomplished.

 “You ask what is our aim? I answer in one word: It is victory.” 


 Winston Churchill was such a poor student that after trying two different schools, his parents sent him to Harrow, a boarding school in London. It was there that he joined the Rifle Corps and decided on a military career. His military career almost didn’t get off the ground, however, as he failed the exam for the British Royal Military College twice before finally passing. Once he was in the Army, he worked as a news reporter and was taken hostage. He escaped, and walked nearly 300 miles to friendly territory.

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, never – in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in, except to convictions of honor and good sense.”

What lessons from Churchill have helped you build your business?