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Benjamin Disraeli Leadership


Benjamin Disraeli LeadershipBenjamin Disraeli (1804-1881)


Twice elected British prime minister (pictured right) and founder of the modern Conservative party. His great political rivalry with the Liberal leader, William Gladstone, created party politics as we know it today.


Why was he a great leader?


1. Luck

Born to Jewish parents, his father had an argument with his rabbi, leading to his children being baptized as Christians.

As a Jew, Disraeli wouldn’t have been able to enter Parliament until 1858, 21 years after he did so.



2. Determination

He overcame several problems:


a) being a Jew

(many Conservatives attacked him as a Jewish outsider)


b) debt and a consequent nervous breakdown

(caused by share speculation in 1824).


c) the dirty business of politics

He finally became prime minister in 1868 (“the top of the greasy pole”, he called it).

At the end of his badly received maiden speech in the House of Commons in 1837, he resolutely said,

“I will sit down, but the time will come when you will hear me”.


3. Purposebenjamin disraeli leadership

He wanted to re-establish the Conservatives as the national party of moderation to successfully challenge the Liberals, led by William Gladstone, pictured right (the Labour Party was founded much later in 1900).

Disraeli believed that success needs

  • constancy to purpose
  • enthusiasm.



4. Servant leader

He always served the needs of all British people, realizing that great people make great countries.

“I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?”, he asked.


5. Principlebenjamin disraeli leadership

He gave the Conservative party distinctive principles, based on:

  • the monarchy (Disraeli is pictured right with Queen Victoria, the British monarch 1837-1901)
  • House of Lords
  • Church of England.
  • British Empire.
  • a united and fair country.

He hated the idea of “two nations”, rich and poor.

So in 1867, he:

  • doubled the number of male voters,
  • improved poor people’s housing, education and health.
  • reduced exploitation at work.



6. Action and learning

He believed that we learn from:

  • action - “We cannot learn men from books”, he said.
  • awareness of your own ignorance and limitations.
  • observation.
  • asking the right questions.
  • life’s difficulties and failures.


7. Hard work

He loved politics and worked incredibly hard, believing that “diligence is the mother of good fortune”.

 Benjamin Disraeli Leadership

8. Change

Disraeli (pictured right in 1878) saw constant change as inevitable in a progressive country.

To be successful, you must

  • preserve the traditions of the past like the monarchy.
  • be bold and decisive.

“The most dangerous strategy is to jump a chasm in two leaps”, he said.


9. Opportunism

The two most important things to him were

  • seizing an opportunity.
  • knowing when to give up an advantage.

Despite the opposition of his Cabinet, he quickly bought shares in the Suez Canal with borrowed money, even before Parliament had approved it.


10. Charisma

He was a flamboyant personality with intelligence, charm and wit.

 Benjamin Disraeli Leadership

11. Support

He was very happily married to Mary Anne (pictured right) and valued his family life.

“No success in public life can compensate for failure in the home”, he said.


Key quote on change

Change is inevitable... Change is constant.

The most dangerous strategy is to jump a chasm in two leaps


Key quotes on success

To believe in the heroic makes heroes.

Success is the child of audacity.

The most successful man in life is the man who has the best information.

Man is not the creature of circumstances. Circumstances are the creatures of men.

Diligence is the mother of good fortune


Key quote on ethics

Justice is truth in action.


Key quote on influencing people

How much easier it is to be critical than to be correct.

Little things affect little minds.


Key quote on statistics

There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies and statistics.


Key quote on positive thinking

“I am prepared for the worst but hope for the best”.


Key quotes on leadership

I must follow the people. Am I not their leader?

Power has only one duty - to secure the social welfare of the people.


Key quote on empowerment

“All power is trust”.


Key quotes on learning and education

“Seeing much, suffering much and studying much are the three pillars of learning”.

“Upon the education of the people of this country the fate of this country depends”.

“We cannot learn men from books”.


Key quote on society

“Great countries are those that produce great people”.

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