Sample Essay on Servant Leadership and Winston Churchill

Servant Leadership and Winston Churchill


A leader is mostly recognized based on his/her ability to lead people in times of crisis. A good leader is one who inspires his/her subjects and assists them to endure adversities or come together to achieve a mutual goal. Numerous people desire to be leaders. Nevertheless, not everybody can be a leader. One has to embody certain qualities to be a leader. Various forms of leadership are identified with diverse characteristics or attributes. The types of leaderships include servant leadership and transformational leadership among others (Russell and Stone 146). The qualities of a leader dictate the type of leadership style that he/she exercises.

This paper aims at analyzing Winston Churchill as a servant leader. Servant leadership refers to a system whereby a leader puts the interests of his/her subjects at heart (Russell and Stone 149). The leader ensures that he/she meets the highest priority needs of his/her subjects. Churchill was one of the administrators who assisted the Britain to overcome the Second World War. However, he is not considered as a servant leader. A comparison of the attributes of a servant leader with Churchill’s leadership shows that he was a servant leader. The paper will give a brief history of Winston Churchill, significant events in his life and his contribution to the society.

Reasons for Selecting Winston Churchill

            Churchill was an exceptional leader. His life was characterized by many impediments. In his words, he stated that success comprises the transition from failure to failure without giving up.  During his early days, he suffered from ruptured kidney and concussion. He was a mischievous boy who did not fear to engage in scary games (Carter 37). For instance, he once almost drowned in a Swiss lake. Besides, he crashed a plane when training as a pilot. He was once knocked by a vehicle while walking along New York’s Fifth Street. Churchill fell off from the stallion on numerous occasions. He was also poor at school. He performed disappointingly in barely all the subjects except English and History. His poor performance almost cost him a chance to join the military school. Not many renowned leaders went through awkward moments like Churchill. In spite of the multiple illnesses and misfortunes, Churchill kept the spirit high. He finally clinched the position of the British Prime Minister.

Brief History and Background of Churchill

            Churchill was born in a noble family in 1874. As a child, he exhibited the traits of his father. When Churchill joined the school, he turned out to be a self-regulating and disobedient student. He could not perform well at his first two schools (Greenleaf 41). In 1888, the father opted to take him to a boarding school to see if he could improve. When in the boarding school, Churchill enrolled for the Harrow Rifle Corps that opened an avenue for him to pursue a military career. Initially, it appeared like Churchill was not qualified for a military career. He failed the British Royal Military College exams three times before he was admitted to the college to pursue his dream career.

The determination to work in the military made Churchill perform exemplary and graduate as one of the best scholars. He did not have a close connection with his parents during his school life. Indeed, he did not get an opportunity to relate closely to his father. Greenleaf maintains, “Churchill enjoyed a brief but eventful career in the British Army at a zenith of British military power” (44). He left the army in 1899 and served as a combat reporter for the Morning Post, a conformist daily newspaper. Churchill was kidnapped while covering the Boer War, but he afterwards managed to flee.

In 1900, he joined politics and was elected as a legislature for Oldham under the Conservative Party. He advocated for social changes. In 1904, Churchill left the Conservative Party after learning that it was not devoted to social justice. He became a member of the Liberal Party and secured the parliamentary position in 1908. Later, Churchill was appointed the head of the Board of Trade in the prime minister’s cabinet. Churchill criticized the expansion of the British Navy (Greenleaf 46). It was in the course of his tenure as the president of the Board of Trade that he initiated numerous changes. He transformed the prison system and “facilitated the formation of labor exchanges for the unemployed and unemployment insurance” (Halle 61). Churchill played a critical role in the endorsement of the People’s Budget that ushered in social welfare programs.

On September 3, 1939, “the day that Britain declared war on Germany, Churchill was appointed first lord of the Admiralty and a member of the war cabinet” (Halle 69). In 1940, he became the British prime minister. He also worked as the minister of defense. As the minister of defense, he established an alliance with the United States, which enabled them to defeat Germany. After the Second World War, he recommended collective changes in Britain. However, he was unable to persuade the public. In 1945, he vied for the post of the British prime minister but was defeated. He served as the head of the opposition for six years before returning to leadership in 1951 (Halle 71). In late 1951, Churchill regained his post as the prime minister. He introduced numerous changes, among them the Mines and Quarries Act and the Housing Repairs and Rent Act.  In 1955, he resigned from active politics because of health problems. He afterwards gave in to an acute stroke in 1965.

Significant Events in Churchill’s Life

            Numerous incidents served as turning points in Churchill’s life. The first significant event that occurred in his life was enrollment into a boarding school. Churchill was a disobedient learner before enrolling in a boarding school. Besides, he was poor academically since he did not have an interest in studies. His concentration in studies commenced after joining Harrow School (Rubin 63). It is during his life in the boarding school that he began to discover his interests. While in school, he joined the Harrow Rifle Corps, a move that would later help him to accede to the military.

Another significant event that happened during his life is becoming a member of Fourth Hussars. He got a chance to serve in Sudan and Indian northwest front lines as a military officer. He acquired the first-hand experience of combat in the Battle of Omdurman. Joining the Fourth Hussars also marked the beginning of his profession as warfare journalists. He compiled military reports for Daily Telegraph and The Pioneer. Later, Churchill resigned from the armed forces and served as a war reporter for the Morning Post. As a combat reporter, he had an opportunity to cover fighting incidents (Carter 41). It helped him to discern his writing aptitude. Churchill published multiple reports about war events that made him famous.

Other significant events that happened in Churchill’s life were his role in defeating the Germans during the Second World War and his appointment as the prime minister. Churchill became the British prime minister at a time when the country was in crisis. Britain was on the verge of being controlled by the Germans. The British hoped that Churchill would liberate the nation. He delivered to their expectations. Having served as the lord of the Admiralty before, Churchill had experience in dealing with external attacks. He suggested pre-emptive occupation of crucial Norwegian territories that were not in the hands of the Germans, particularly Kiruna that supplied iron and the port of Narvik (Halle 79). Chamberlain opposed his suggestion vehemently. Churchill was afterwards vindicated when the Germans occupied Norway. Churchill managed to win the support of the United States and the Soviet Union, thus defeating Hitler.


Churchill’s Contribution to the Society

            Rubin alleges, “Churchill made a huge contribution to shaping the events of the 20th century” (75). After defeating France in the Second World War, he used the power of his personality and eloquence to strengthen Britain’s determination to continue with the struggle.  He later drummed up the support for universal principles, language and culture to persuade the United States to trade with Britain. The healthy rapport with the American president resulted in the United States assisting Britain to conquer Europe. Churchill leveraged the Europe victory to establish a global landscape by advocating mutual ideals and principles. Besides, he facilitated the establishment of international organizations like the United Nations to prevent a future crisis.

Churchill was not only a politician but also supporter of shared values and intellectual relations. He treasured the role of ideas in shaping the human race (Rubin 78). Churchill recognized the importance of what is nowadays known as “soft power”. Soft power refers to the capacity of nations to attract other countries and realize their goals by leveraging the countries’ principles, civilization, and ideas, as an alternative to using military might. Though some citizens are opposed to the notion of soft power, his idea is still associated with the mores of the Britain. The young people from India, Germany, China and Brazil regard Churchill’s figure as a great soft power symbol for Britain. Pundits claim that Churchill stood out from other political leaders since he cared about the future generations (Rubin 78). It underlines the reason he tolerated the disappointments that came his way.

Churchill was the first to talk about the Cold War; a topic that many leaders were afraid to discuss. Many world leaders still refer to Churchill’s speech (Iron Curtain) to justify their policies. Churchill established the union between the United States and British Commonwealth (Rubin 83). He discovered that the Soviet Union was determined to break the European unity as a way to accomplish its expansionist ambitions. To stop this, he advocated the formation of a system of combined security. His vision led to the formation of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

Several intellectuals allege that Churchill contributed to the formation of the present Iraq. Prior to the Fist World War, Iraq was under the Turkish Empire. It was then called Mesopotamia. After the conflict, Italian, British, Russian and French administrations split the Turkish Empire. The British government took control of Jordan, Palestine and Iraq. In 1921, Churchill was appointed the Secretary of State. He managed all the territories that were controlled by the British. Besides, he headed the Middle East Department that controlled Iraq and Palestine (Rubin 84). Churchill saw the need to cut down on the military costs in the colonial territories. Consequently, he embarked on a strategy to reduce the number of soldiers in Iraq. He introduced the terror campaign to replace the army. The desire to rule Iraq resulted in Churchill establishing a “native” government. He appointed Faisal as the leader of Iraq. Faisal hailed from the minority community (Sunni), and thus he did not have much authority in the nation. Rubin holds, “The Sunni political control over the Shiite majority long predated the most recent dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and was the product of British diplomatic intrigue through Churchill” (93).

Leadership Theories

Transformational Leadership

            Numerous leadership theories account for diverse leadership paradigms. They include transformational leadership and servant leadership theories. The transformational leadership focuses on the sentimental and enigmatic qualities of leadership. Transformational leadership is renowned for its prominence on built-in inspiration and follower development (Gumusluoglu and Ilsev 463). As the name suggests, transformational leadership is concerned with morals, values, principles, emotions and lasting goals of people. A transformational leader evaluates the needs and intentions of his/her followers and works towards their realization.

The first factor that is associated with transformational leadership is idealized influence (Northhouse 123). Transformational leaders serve as role models for their subordinates. The followers respect the leaders and endeavor to be like them. Transformational leaders embody high standards of ethical and moral demeanor. The leaders guide the followers in realizing organizational goals. The second factor of transformational leadership is inspirational motivation. Transformational leaders communicate lofty prospects to their employees (Gumusluoglu and Ilsev 468). Besides, the leaders encourage the workers to be part of the collective vision of the institution. A transformational leader can utilize emotional plea to focus employees’ efforts to accomplish organizational goals. The leader engenders team spirit. Intellectual stimulation is the third factor of transformational leadership. A transformational leader invokes creativity among the followers. Besides, the leader challenges the principles and convictions of the members and encourages them to be inventive (Pieterse et al. 611).

A transformational leader guides members to come up with novel and creative ways of handling operations. The leader empowers workers and allows them to make independent decisions. The last factor of transformational leadership is an individualized consideration. Transformational leaders focus on the personal needs of each employee. They assist the employees to realize self-actualization. At times, the transformational leader may delegate duties to employees to help them grow.

Servant Leadership

            In servant leadership, the leader endeavors to serve the needs of his/her followers. A servant leader shelves his/her ambitions to meet the interests of the supporters (Northhouse 125).  The model of servant leadership identifies three components that are essential to a servant leader.  They are leadership outcomes, servant leader behavior, and antecedent condition. The antecedent condition comprises three factors, which are leader attributes, context and culture, and follower receptivity. Servant leadership has to occur in a particular organizational customs and context. Organizational context and customs have varied impacts on servant leadership. For instance, in the healthcare environment, the culture of compassionate is dominant. The temperament and characters of a leader influence the servant leadership practice (Russell and Stone 151). Many individuals become leaders due to the urge to lead. Some leaders believe that they are called to serve the public. These temperaments determine how people display servant leadership. Follower receptivity impacts the performance of a servant leader. Follower receptivity refers to how employees perceive servant leadership.

A servant leader must exhibit numerous behaviors. The leader must demonstrate a meticulous understanding of the institution. Conceptualizing enables an administrator to analyze the problems that affect an organization through different perspectives and come up with lasting solutions. A servant leader should embody emotional healing (Sendjaya, Sarros and Santora 405). The leader must be conscious of the individual needs of the employees. A servant leader puts his/her followers first. The actions of the leader indicate that he/she prioritizes the needs of the members. Besides, the leader assists the members to develop and thrive. A servant leader understands the professional goals of all members and helps them to achieve those ambitions. The leader supports and mentors employees according to their personal goals. A servant leader behaves ethically. The leader does what is right and upholds moral standards at the expense of success.

Empowerment is another character of a servant leader (Russell and Stone 156). A servant leader allows employees to make autonomous decisions. It helps to nurture confidence in the employees, therefore enabling them to take initiatives in matters that affect an organization. Russell and Stone claim, “Servant leaders create value for the society” (157). They partake in corporate social responsibility as a way to appreciate the contribution of the community to the organization.

In spite of the servant leadership emphasizing on leadership behaviors, it is imperative to analyze the possible outcomes of the leadership style (Sendjaya, Sarros and Santora 409). The results of servant leadership are assessed using three items, which are employee performance and development, societal effects, and organizational growth. The servant leadership focuses mainly on acknowledging the role of workers and assisting them to accomplish their potential.

Churchill’s Leadership Philosophy

            According to Churchill, the success in life or leadership is pegged on trust. One cannot lead others if he/she is not trustworthy. Churchill believed that for a leader to keep his/her followers happy, he/she must cultivate the culture of trust (George 19). He was always transparent and truthful to his people during his reign as the prime minister. The British believed Churchill due to his servant leadership. He took the forefront and led the British to victory during the Second World War. Churchill presented himself as one fighting for the rights of the British. Consequently, he elicited confidence and trust from the masses.  Churchill held that a leader cannot succeed without foresight. He had a conviction that leadership is all about foreseeing the possible results of a situation and taking the appropriate measures. A leader who forges ahead recklessly is bound to fail. Such a leader is unable to handle emergency incidents.

Nevertheless, a servant leader has to weigh the repercussions of his/her decisions. Besides, the leaders must use past experiences to come up with solutions for present conditions and future eventualities. Churchill embodied the quality of foresight during his tenure as the prime minister. He evaluated his mistakes and the mistakes committed by past leaders when planning for the Second World War. Churchill once stated, “Sometimes though not always, people, are wise after the event, but it is possible to be wise before the event” (George 21). It signified his value for foresight in both leadership and life.

Churchill believed that a leader must have the initiative to succeed. A leader must possess a pioneering mentality. Churchill’s focus on social reforms and his determination to win the Second World War demonstrated his initiative and pioneering mindset. A leader should always be ready to serve his followers when needed.  Churchill knew that he would be called at one point to help his country. However, he never knew that he will be required to lead at a time when the country is in crisis. For Churchill, a servant leader possesses a natural feeling that he or she must serve. Thus, he maintains an excellent level of initiative (George 28).  A leader must have the attribute of awareness. Churchill believed that a leader cannot succeed without being conscious of the challenges that his or her followers face. In life, one must be aware of the potential challenges and have skills on how to handle them.

Churchill was always conscious of the dangers that faced his nation. For instance, he understood the dangers of letting Hitler accumulate weapons and thus called for rearmament in Britain.  Even though some leaders like Chamberlain were against his proposal, they came to see the rationale behind his suggestions when it was too late. Churchill emerged victorious during the Second World War because he exploited his consciousness of the wartime condition (Russell and Stone 148).

Churchill’s View Point and Personal Life

            I share the same outlook with Churchill about personal life. I trust that for one to succeed in life, he/she must be conscious of the surrounding. Being aware of the potential challenges in life helps one to come up with an effective strategy. I also believe that life is about taking initiatives. One cannot succeed without being creative and venturing into areas that other people have never tried. Churchill took the initiative to bring together the United States, Britain, and the Soviet Union. In return, he defeated Germany and rescued his people from Hitler. Having an initiative mentality can help one to achieve the unthinkable. I trust that one cannot realize self-actualization without taking the initiative to engage in challenging tasks.


            Churchill stood as an exceptional leader in the British army during the Second World War. Churchill did not only demonstrate that he was trustworthy and ethical but also empathetic. As a servant leader, Churchill served from the front during the war. He used his prudence to organize for a counterattack and win the assistance of the United States and the Soviet Union. The determination to improve the life of the British led to Churchill fighting for social reforms. Besides, he championed the formation of NATO to protect Europe and Western countries from the Soviet attack. Churchill was determined to leave a better life for the future generations. Thus, he was always ready to serve his people despite numerous disappointments.


Works Cited

Carter, Violet. Winston Churchill: An Intimate Portrait, New York: Harcourt, 1965. Print.

George, Bill. “Leading in Crisis: Learn These Seven Lessons.” Leadership Excellence 26.5 (2009): 18-31. Print.

Greenleaf, Robert. Servant Leadership: A Journey into the Nature of Legitimate Power and Greatness, New York: Paulist, 1977. Print.

Gumusluoglu, Lale and Arzu Ilsev. ”Transformational leadership, creativity, and Organizational Innovation.” Journal of Business Research 62.4 (2009): 461-473. Print.

Halle, Kay. Irrepressible Churchill: A Treasury of Winston Churchill’s Wit, Cleveland: World Publishing Company, 1966. Print.

Northhouse, Peter. Leadership: Theory and Practice, New York: SAGE Publications Inc., 2012. Print.     

Pieterse, Anne, Daan van Knippenberg, Michaela Schippers and Daan Stam. “Transformational and Transactional Leadership and Innovative Behavior: The Moderating Role of Psychological Empowerment.” Journal of Organizational Behavior 31.4 (2009): 609-623.

Rubin, Gretchen. Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill: A Brief Account of a Long Life, New York: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2004. Print.

Russell, Robert and Gregory Stone. “A Review of Servant Leadership Attributes: Developing a Practical Model.” Leadership & Organizational Development Journal 23.3 (2002): 145-157. Print.

Sendjaya, Sen, James Sarros and Joseph Santora. “Defining and Measuring Servant Leadership Behavior in Organizations.” Journal of Management Studies 45.2 (2008): 402-424. Print.