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What World War II History Teaches Us about Leadership Today

Newspaper article News Sentinel

What World War II History Teaches Us about Leadership Today

Article excerpt

This past Thursday marked the 70th anniversary of Germany's official surrendering to the Allied Forces.

As the grandson of two World War II veterans, I find myself fascinated by world leaders of that time. How one group kindled and stoked the fire that became Nazi Germany and another defended the realm and defeated evil.

Through the mirror of history we can reflect on what makes a great leader now and in the future.

Compare the three prime ministers of Great Britain who ruled during the rise and fall of Nazi Germany -- Stanley Baldwin, Neville Chamberlain and Winston Churchill -- and take heed of three key lessons from them that have stood the test of time.

n Make decisions based on facts.

Why this might seem obvious, many of us have made decisions based on the words of a lie instead of taking the actions of the liar as proof of his true intentions.

In much the same way, Chamberlain and Baldwin were taken in again and again by Hitler's rhetoric stating his peaceful intentions, while his actions clearly indicated his desire for war.

Just because we desire peace and honesty in our negotiations doesn't mean the other party shares our desire. In fact, unless their actions match their words we should assume the worse and consider their words merely a ploy meant to lower our guard.

n Resolve to be right instead of popular.

When leading a team or company many times doing what is necessary is quite unpopular because it's a change from the way things have always been done. …

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