Group 5: Patricia Sinkus, Natalisa Marie Smith, Robert Stoltzfus

Authentic Leadership: A Case Study of WINSTON CHURCHILL

Winston ChurchillFig. 1


During the early years of Adolph Hitler’s attempt to take over the world, the empire of Great Britain stood by and watched along with the rest of the world. It wasn’t until Hitler decided to invade Poland in 1939 did Great Britain step up to take on the axis of evil. Almost a year into the conflict, Great Britain replaced Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain with Winston Churchill on May 10, 1940.  This move would prove to be fortuitous for Great Britain and the world as Winston Churchill proved to be a leader worthy of the challenge. (World). Winston Churchill did not have an easy job. Shortly after taking over as Prime Minister, France, originally an ally, signed an armistice with Nazi Germany, the disastrous Battle of Dunkirk occurred, and the Blitz and Battle of England reduced parts of Great Britain to rubble (War). Winston Churchill stood steadfast through it all, doing his part to keep morale high and lead his people to victory.



Winston Churchill is an excellent example of an authentic leader.  He gained the trust of the British people by remaining visible during Germany’s devastating attacks.  He visited places all over the country, spending time with soldiers and civilians alike. His ability to interact on a personal level is a key definition of authentic leadership. The interpersonal perspective “stems from the relationship between leaders and followers…it requires not only the actions of the leader but also the actions of the followers in response to the leader.  The authenticity here comes from having strong, honest relationships” (Dobbs, 2018).

Fig. 2

 Practical Approach 

A practical approach to authentic leadership is George's Leadership Approach, which focuses on the characteristics of authentic leaders (Northouse, 2015).  These characteristics include purpose, values, relationships, self-discipline, and heart. A leader will fail to be authentic if he does not possess all five of these core characteristics, which references Fig. 3 below.  This figure illustrates how each aspect of relates to one another that makes up the foundation of an authentic leader. Each of the five major (outer circle) emotions/behaviors (Pasion, Behavior, Connectedness, Consistency, Compassion) transversely correspond with the meda-emotions (inner circle) (Purpose, Values, Relationships, Self-Discipline, Heart) in both directions. Within the inner workings of this concept illustrates what develops or could be classified as an Authentic Leader and what Sir Churchill incorporated into all of his leadership quilities. 


Fig. 3 - George's Dimensions and Characteristics of Authentic Leaders

 Winston Churchill clearly exhibits all five of these characteristics.  


Theoretical Approach

Winston Churchill’s leadership style is further supported using the theoretical approach to authentic leadership. Walumbwa and associates identified self-awareness, internalized moral perspective, balanced processing, and relational transparency as the four components that form the basis of authentic leadership (Northouse, 2016).

Factors such as psychological capacities (confidence, hope, optimism, and resilience), moral reasoning (ethical decision-making), and critical life events also influence one’s ability to become an authentic leader (Northouse, 2016).

The key to Churchill’s courage was his unbounded optimism. “I am one of those,” he remarked in 1910, “who believe that the world is going to get better and better.” “All will come right” was a favorite phrase. He repeated it often in the darkest days of World War II, and he seldom ended a wartime speech without a ringing note of optimism (Hayward, 2010).

Churchill became Prime Minister the very day that Hitler invaded France and the Low Countries. He was under no illusions about the enormity of the task that lay ahead. Churchill, as both Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, was in a powerful position.  With full oversight of the armed forces (the United States Army, the  British Royal Navy, and the British Royal Air Force) as well as the government of Great Britain as War Leader, Churchill had the psychological capacity and moral reasoning to react to this critical life event, developed the four qualities of authentic leadership, and engaged in authentic leadership (Dobbs, 2018).



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