Power and Getting Along – You won’t believe what Clementine Churchill wrote to Winston!

A letter from Clementine Churchill to her husband Winston, then British Prime Minister during WWII.

My Darling,

I hope you will forgive me if I tell you something you ought to know.

One of the men in your entourage (a devoted friend) has been to me & told me that there is danger of your being generally disliked by your colleagues and subordinates because of your rough sarcastic & overbearing manner – It seems your Private Secretaries have agreed to behave like school boys &’take what’s coming to them’  & then escape out of your presence shrugging their shoulders – Higher up, if an idea is suggested (say at a conference) you are supposed to be so contemptuous that presently no ideas, good or bad, will be forthcoming. I was astonished & upset because in all these years I have been accustomed to all those who have worked with & under you, loving you – I said this, & I was told ‘No doubt it’s the strain’ –

My Darling Winston, I must confess that I have noticed a deterioration in your manner; and you are not as kind as you used to be.

It is for you to give the Orders & if they are bungled – except for the King, the Archbishop of Canterbury & the Speaker, you can sack anyone & everyone. Therefore with this terrific power you must combine urbanity, kindness and if possible Olympic calm. … – ‘ I cannot bear that those who serve the Country & yourself should not love you as well as admire & respect you –

Besides, you won’t get the best results by irascibility & rudeness. They will breed either dislike or a slave mentality (Rebellion in War time being out of the question!)

Please forgive your loving devoted & watchful


From Clementine Churchill,

By her daughter Mary Soames