The key problem in the delegation of authority is to match the delegatee's character and experience with the tasks appointed to him/her. I got an impression that Churchill's record in this field is less than impressive. Here are some examples of poor choices he made: Ian Hamilton for Gallipoli, Lindemann as chief scientific adviser, Fisher as First Sea Lord during WWI and Dudley Pound during WWII, Mountbatten for Dieppe and SEAC, Wingate for Burma.


  1. Are there examples of particularly apt personnel selections by Churchill to counter-balance my list?
  2. Is this issue treated specifically in the historical literature? (We have works on Churchill & X for X ranging over at least {Soviet Union, America, British Empire, Jews} - what about X being Human Resources?)
  • 4
    This may be slightly subjective.
    – Russell
    Dec 18, 2012 at 23:08
  • 3
    how do you mesure HR management skill? I know that you've clarified it with your other questions, however, they also raise several questions. Thought the question may be slightly subjective, we do have a precedent that allows question like this, which is why I did not flag it. However, I wanted to see what other people thought about the question.
    – Russell
    Dec 19, 2012 at 2:08
  • 1
    @spiceyokooko: Churchill's judgement might have been faulty often (a broad and even more subjective topic which I didn't want to get into, restricting the question to the HR aspect, which is more amenable to analysis) - but Gallipoli was, as far as I know, a basically sound idea which was terribly botched in the execution by everyone involved (including Churchill). Dec 19, 2012 at 21:26
  • 1
    I thought Andrew Roberts's Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West, 1941-1945 was good on the soft skills or lack thereof in Roosevelt, Churchill, Marshall, and Brooke. My sense (perhaps mainly from this source) is that Churchill (here a bit like Hitler) saw himself as a considerable military expert e.g. through his writings, and that this tended to cause conflicts with some UK players. It may have influenced some HR choices too.
    – Drux
    Dec 20, 2012 at 10:31
  • 1
    @Drux: You are quite right about Churchill considering himself as a military expert - much like Hitler and Stalin. Of all three he had the best credentials (at least he had graduated from Sandhurst and saw service on three continents as an officer, unlike a certain corporal a certain apprentice clergyman), but as to whether his military judgement was significantly better as a result, I don't know. Stalin, in my opinion, was very mediocre in military matters; Hitler, villain though he was, had some flashes of military brilliance (Liddel Hart treats the subject at some length in his major book). Dec 20, 2012 at 11:12

2 Answers 2


I recall a quote by one of Churchill's senior generals about his military prowess going something like this: 

"Churchill's amazing; he comes up with 10 completely original ideas every single day.
Of course, only one of them is any good; and Winston doesn't know which one it is."

I argue that the fundamental difference between the management styles of Churchill, Hitler and Stalin is that Churchill generally knew when to defer to his military advisors; Stalin sometimes knew when to defer; and Hitler didn't know the meaning of the word defer.

Given that most supervisors have great difficulty deferring to subordinates, that would make Churchill well above average; Stalin about average; and Hitler somewhere off the bottom of the scale.

  • Interesting point (not quite what I was asking for, I think) but nevertheless. Perhaps the quote is from Alanbrooke? Jul 30, 2013 at 8:17
  • 1
    We could add that Roosevelt practically always deferred!
    – Ne Mo
    Jan 21, 2018 at 15:43

His treatment of colonial troops in both wars was poor, some of the best troops available to him where colonial troops and he constantly wasted them in futile engagments in world War 1. He refused to listen to colonial generals, Monash who Churchill desperately wanted to sack was an Australian General of Jewish decent. The Australian prime minister grabbed Churchill by the throat and threatened him after a discussion about the deployment of Australian troops. I would rate Churchill overall as a poor HR man but he more than made up for it with his forceable will, and his genius at mass psychology.

  • 10
    Do you have sources for this? Jan 28, 2013 at 10:24
  • Considering "Breaker Morant" was in both their lifetimes, I am surprised that ALL the Australian PM did was shake Churchill up a bit by the throat. Apr 10, 2017 at 22:05

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.