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Churchill, Leadership & Darkest Hour

 

On Monday 5th February 2018, FoodnFilm hosted a round table on Leadership featuring Andy Jackson FRSA at Home Sweet Home, Great Northern.
 

Situated in Home Sweet Home’s private room whose door is an old vending machine, the interactive round table asked the guests a simple question: Are you leader?
 

Except, as the group would go on to discover, it is perhaps not quite as easy a question as it first appears.  There are, according to Andy Jackson, 6 types of leader. All have their pro’s and con’s and all in turn benefit from being used in certain circumstances, which is something the group would soon learn in relation to Winston Churchill and his leadership through World War II.

 

The 6 types of leader are:

 

Commanding
Someone who demands immediate compliance.

 

Visionary
Great at mobilising people towards a great vision.

 

Affiliative
Creates harmony and emotional connections.

Democratic
Brings people together usually through participation.
 

Pacesetting
They are all about performance and setting high standards.

Coaching
Takes long term approach and develops people for the future.

 

The discussion then centred around which type of leader each participant saw in themselves with many seeing their leadership style change depending on the situation they were in. Perhaps, there is more than one type of leader in all of us?

 

That certainly appeared to the case with Sir Winston Churchill - recently voted the greatest Briton of all time. Perhaps this would come to know surprise to the man himself, after all, he can be quoted as saying “History will be kind to me for I intend to write it”.

 

Darkest Hour (more on the movie later) charts the early months of WW2 and Churchill’s appointment as Prime Minister. His voting in was perhaps down to all parties’ equal dislike for him than anything else. It was here that the leadership discussion got really interesting. Andy Jackson talked us through the traits of Churchill and where they fitted into the leadership spectrum.

 

It was clear Churchill had many leadership qualities and that many of them were somewhat conflicted against each other. Commanding is perhaps the style that first springs to mind when you picture Churchill’s leadership technique. But then again, he is also well known for his emotive and powerful speeches such as:

 

““You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be.

 

Such words showcase a visionary leader – he believed in a cause and got a whole nation, that was initially divided (at a political level at least), to rally together in the face of great uncertainty to work towards a common aim: victory.

 

For many I am sure the round-table provided many more questions than it did answers, and that was entirely it’s aim. By making us aware of our own strengths – and perhaps weaknesses also -we can all become better leaders.

 

Leaders do not have to be charismatic extroverts, in fact often they are the exact opposite: quiet introverts that empower others. Leadership is not something that is limited to a particular type of person; we all have the ability to become great leaders.

 

Watching the Darkest Hour straight after the leadership discussion certainly added another dynamic to the viewing experience - it allowed for Churchill’s multiple leadership styles to be highlighted and analysed as he switched styles depending on his situation and audience. A fact confirmed by BLM’s Rebecca Young:

 

Andy’s talk about different leadership styles, relating them to well-known persons and situations also meant that you watched the film, Darkest Hour, in a more reflective way.  It was a different experience to watch the film with the benefit of Andy’s talk

 

The film itself is utterly dominated by Gary Oldman, who portrays Churchill with all the intensively and forcefulness his legacy deserves. Other than the odd fanciful ‘Hollywood moment,’ Darkest Hour stayed strong to the story of charting one of the most delicate times in British history.

 

The movie’s summary of Churchill’s life highlighted one important historical fact – Churchill, now revered as our greatest ever leader ever, was voted out in the first general election after the end of the war. And what a telling fact that proves to be: Winston Churchill, the greatest Briton of all time, was the perfect leader for war but not for peace.

 

Thanks again to Andy Jackson FRSA for your powerful and thought-provoking session.

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