Opinion 

We all have something to learn from Winston Churchill

Marlene Outrim

Marlene Outrim

I recently watched the film Darkest Hour, starring Gary Oldman as Winston Churchill.

It tells the story of the beginning of World War II, when within days of becoming prime minister, the PM must face one of his most turbulent and defining trials: exploring a negotiated peace treaty with Nazi Germany that could guarantee Britain’s independence and that of the Commonwealth.

The prime minister must resist attempts, by his own political party and an initially sceptical King George VI, to stand firm against the dangers facing his country and not buckle to the Nazis.

No, I’m not turning this column into a film critique, but apart from Mr Oldman who played the lead role superbly and is unrecognisable as himself, I was struck by the trials and tribulations that a great leader must contemplate and saw the parallels of being a leader in business.

Had Mr Churchill been swayed by other influential and rich people around him, our lives might have been quite different, and perhaps I would not be writing this today.

As leaders in business, the results of our decisions may not have the same tremendous and world-changing impact as those of Mr Churchill and other world leaders, but we do influence our clients’ lives, our employees, other stakeholders and partners.

This in turn has a knock-on effect on the people they are associated with, such as family and friends.

Mr Churchill had the ability to stick to his gut instinct and step up to make decisions, rather than wait for others to take charge, which is a trait of a successful leader.

But being honest, decisive and persistent are everyday traits that all of us are able to demonstrate. What we need to do though is show them consistently and use them as core values in making decisions in business.

Mr Churchill was a gifted orator who was able to inspire a nation.

It is no coincidence then that one of the definitions of a good leader is “a visionary with the ability to influence others to pursue a given course”.

A number of qualities such as intelligence, determination, motivation, self-awareness and good communication skills are all important. How good a leader are you?

Marlene Outrim is managing director of Uniq Family Wealth