Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Churchill Series - Jun. 10, 2008

(One of a series of weekday posts about the life of Winston S. Churchill.)

Whenever Churchill’s wartime leadership is discussed, his determination and ability to inspire hope are invariably cited as two of his most important leadership qualities. There’s no doubt about the importance of either of those qualities.

But I want to introduce here and in a follow-up post tomorrow something I think was very important to the success of Churchill’s wartime leadership but doesn’t receive much attention from historians.

It’s what for want of a better term I’ll call Churchill’s ability to remind people at certain key psychological moments about "on the other hand.”

Churchill used not the words “on the other hand” but the sense of their meaning to help the British people moderate the emotional highs that followed victories and the lows that followed defeats. He knew emotional "roller coasters" could destroy the constancy the public needed to see the war through to final victory.

As he so often said, "In war, resolution."

So, for example, in the midst of the national euphoria following “the miracle of Dunkirk” in May/June 1940 which delivered almost all their army on the Continent back safe to the home island, Churchill reminded his countrymen “wars are not won by evacuations.”

(to be continued tomorrow)