9 Leadership Traits and Qualities of Winston Churchill

Churchill was a famous politician who set his own goals when he was young. Even though he came from a humble background, he worked his way up through the political ranks and became the most successful combat leader.

These qualities and traits as a leader helped him do well.

He had good communication skills

Churchill was a well-known leader during World War II. He was often seen touring bombed-out homes and factories and talking with people who lived there.

This friendly personality brought the British people together, and after talking to the prime minister, many of them said, “We can do almost anything!”

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender."
Winston Churchill

Churchill knew how important it was to talk, and even though he wasn’t a natural speaker, he worked on his skills and gradually got more and more people in the Allied Forces to listen to him.

He was courageous

During the war, Churchill was in a challenging position. The choices he had to make to keep going until the end were even harder.

Churchill made a mistake by putting himself in danger. “Being shot at without getting hurt is the most exciting thing in the world,” he wrote. As Prime Minister, it bothered him because he wasn’t on the front lines.

He was both wise and strange. He told the Canadian Parliament that Britain had not “traveled through the ages, across the seas, over the mountains, and across the plains because we were made of sugar candy.”

Churchill said of nations that went down fighting, “Those that gave up without a fight were done.”

"You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life."
Winston Churchill

He was passionate

Churchill was a loyal soldier, writer, politician, and war reporter who cared deeply about the growth of his country, no matter what people said about him. Of course, he would show that he cared about more than just winning the war.

Churchill often shed tears. “I cry a lot, so you should get used to it,” he joked to the people around him.

He said that he had the least amount of quietness and self-control. When the crimes committed against Jews in Europe were made public, Churchill’s eyes filled with tears in the House of Commons.

A British general saw Churchill crying when he arrived in France after D-Day and when he marched with Charles de Gaulle after Paris was freed. Churchill’s feelings made him more honest and close to the people of Britain. He cried both because he was happy and because he was sad.

He was determined

Churchill was a leader who had a strong sense of purpose and destiny. He didn’t want to get rich, so his first goal was to keep the British Empire together.

"Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts."
Winston Churchill

A more dangerous and important goal overshadowed that: “We are fighting to free the whole world from the scourge of Nazi tyranny and to protect everything that is most important to people.”

Despite being disregarded and pushed aside for decades, Churchill led from the House of Commons backbenches in recognizing and condemning Hitler and the Nazi leadership.

Churchill wrote in 1940, when it seemed like everything was going wrong and he was asked to take charge, “I felt as if I were marching with destiny and that all my previous life had been better preparation for this hour and this struggle.”

Churchill warned those who wanted to appease Hitler or come to a deal with him that there were things worse than war. “Slavery is worse than war,” he said. War is worse than shame."

He wanted to leave his mark on the past. “The farther back you can look, the farther ahead you can see,” he said. The longer the distance, the more men and women feel like they must protect and improve the place where they live."

He learned from his mistakes

Winston Churchill once said, “I am always ready to learn, even if I don’t always like being taught.” In the wake of the military disaster in the Dardanelles during World War I, when Churchill was First Lord of the Admiralty, his wife, Clementine, thought he would die of sadness.

As Chancellor of the Exchequer, he didn’t listen to the almost unanimous advice of experts and put the UK back on the Gold Standard, which had terrible results. But these and many other mistakes helped him learn how to lead and make decisions during WWII.

“I wouldn’t have made anything if I hadn’t made mistakes,” he told his wife.

Churchill said that a person wasn’t worth a damn if they couldn’t take a punch. He learned from his mistakes, but they didn’t stop him from taking chances.

When asked in the House of Commons if he had learned from his mistakes, he answered with aplomb, “I’m sure the mistakes of that time won’t happen again.” We will almost certainly make more mistakes."

He believed in his people

Churchill was able to tell the British people bad news because he believed they were strong and smart. By being honest and polite, he kept himself from being blamed when things went wrong.

He didn’t move back and forth like a weathervane because he believed in the people. He said that politicians who won’t do unpopular things when people are upset aren’t good enough to be ministers.

Churchill listened carefully to what the people had to say, but he did what he thought was best for the country in the long run. Churchill was often thought of as a traitor by the upper class because he stood with the people.

Churchill said that the people would never be ruled by “a pitiful minority of titled individuals who represent nobody and are answerable to nobody and who just rush up to London to vote in their party interests, class interests, and personal interests.” Our unelected Senate is the House of Lords.

He had perseverance

Churchill’s unique persistence is hard to figure out where they came from. Since he was a child, Churchill’s parents and teachers told him he didn’t try hard enough.

Throughout his childhood, his teachers always said that he was “lazy” when they talked to his parents about how he was doing in school.

This part of a letter to Winston from 1893 shows that his father was especially hard on him for the way he worked, which he called “slovenly happy-go-lucky harum scarum.”

“I am sure that if you don’t stop living the idle, useless, and pointless life you had during school and the months after, you will become a social wastrel, one of the hundreds of public school dropouts, and your life will become shabby, unpleasant, and pointless.”

Churchill’s dad died a year after that. This was a turning point in Churchill’s life. It marked the beginning of his Herculean efforts in politics, war, public speaking, and writing.

From this series of events, Churchill’s father’s death may have made him want to keep trying to prove himself to his father. Churchill was always trying to be a good son because he remembered what his late father had told him.

In 1941, Churchill went back to the school where he almost failed and told the students, “Never give up.” Churchill’s young audience almost certainly didn’t know that he wasn’t very determined when he was their age.

He was a humorous person

Churchill said that humor gave people confidence and made them feel better. When the Nazis took over Europe, Churchill said that Hitler’s supporters were like people who fed a crocodile so it would eat them last.

After Hitler invaded Czechoslovakia, Churchill said that it “opened the eyes of the blind, made the deaf hear, and in some cases even made the stupid speak.”

When criticized for the kind and even submissive words he used to declare war against the Japanese, Churchill said, “Some people didn’t like this formal way of doing things. But, in the end, being nice doesn’t cost anything when you have to kill a guy.”

Pointed exaggeration was another way to make people laugh. He told a member of the admiralty, “In this war, there are two people who sink U-boats.” “You put them to death in the Atlantic, and I do the same in Parliament.” The problem is that you only sink them half as often as I do."

He started his speech from the opposing side by telling a story from his childhood. He remembered going to the circus and seeing “freaks and monstrosities” on display.

The “boneless marvel” was what he most wanted to see, but his parents wouldn’t let him because they thought it was disgusting. Churchill said that he had finally seen the “boneless marvel” after 50 years. He pointed to a minister sitting on the other side of the Treasury bench.

He took some time to relax

Churchill took frequent naps not to slack off but to enable him to do two full days of work in 24 hours. But he knew that doing nothing but work for lengthy periods would be exhausting.

While Churchill dabbled in bricklaying, he was a skilled painter. “I could not survive; I could not endure the pressure of things if it weren’t for painting,” he wrote. It was his treatment, and he completed 540 canvases throughout his life.

He also discovered that going to the movies helped distract him from the burden of rescuing the globe from Nazi tyranny.


Churchill was a great leader of millions of soldiers and civilians because of who he was. Both looked to him for help and strength.

We can easily see how Churchill’s character and actions were affected by the past, but it’s harder to predict someone’s behavior based on what we know now, as this event above shows.

About the Author
Hi there, I'm James, founder of Melbado. I have over 20 years of experience as a leader and entrepreneur. Recently, I turned to leadership coaching and writing to pass on my knowledge to the next generation. If you have any questions or comments, please contact me via our contact page.


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