CONGREGATION ADDRESS
by Field Marshal
The Viscount Montgomery of Alamein
on the occasion
of the
SPECIAL CONGREGATION
MONDAY, MAY 9th, 1960
at
THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA

I should like to convey my tremendous appreciation for the honour that has been done me tonight, that I have been considered worthy to receive an honorary degree from this great university. I should add that I have the honour to hold honorary degrees at three other universities, which I shall name from east to west in case of any doubt about which is the best: Dalhousie, McGill and Toronto.

When the war was over, I was invited by the Canadian Government to come to Canada to see the men who fought under my command in the War, and some Canadian newspaper men said to me in Germany, "Is it true that you are to receive an honorary degree at McGill University?" I said "yes". They then said, "Are you going to receive an honorary degree at Toronto University?" And I said, "I didn't know there was a university at Toronto". And there was, of course, a father and mother of a row, and when I got to Toronto I had to say that of course I was a very ignorant soldier and didnít really know where the best universities were.

Tonight, I do know where the best university is. Now, since I have been in Canada, not very long, I have had to make a great many speeches, covering a great many subjects, and I have come to the conclusion that there are more speeches in Canada to the square meal than there are people to the square mile.

I thought tonight that I would like to touch on a new subject, which I have not publicly spoken about this time in Canada., and it is always a good thing, if you have to talk, to say something about what you know. I thought tonight I would like to talk on a subject of enormous importance -- leadership. This is a subject about which I like to think I know something, although there may be people who don't agree with that., and I'd like to wrap that up particularly in the matter of education for leadership. It is my opinion that the western world today is suffering from a lack of courageous leadership. Weíve got into a log jam in this country between east and west and don't seem able to get out of it. The show is all 'gummed-up'. But we don't want to get involved in that problem tonight. I would prefer to discuss the training of leaders who might get us out of the log jam and the first point to decide is: What is a leader? Well, in its simplest terms., I would say that a leader is one who can get something out of his followers. Some will say that great leaders are born and not made. I wouldn't altogether agree with that. Of course, some men have within themselves the qualities of leadership to a greater degree than others, but most men will have some small spark of leadership and that can be developed and brought on very greatly by training. but., except in the armed forces, this training is not given. My view is that the first approach to leadership must be intellectual.

And that brings us to the question as to what is leadership. How can you define it? Well, my own definition, after some experience in this matter., teaches me that the following definition is about right: The capacity and the will to rally men and women to a common purpose and the character which will inspire confidence. The capacity and the will. Itís no good having the capacity if you havenít got the will to use it. Now, since the first approach- is intellectual, I would like to suggest that the subject should be taught in universities. It is our universities which traditionally produce the world's intellectuals, and our universities are the chief custodians of learning. I would like to see them set an example in intelligent leadership and accept the responsibility of producing leaders with a universal vision. You see, in civilian life., it seems to be considered that leadership descends on you like dew from heaven. Well, I know that it does not. There are principles of leadership just as there are principles of war, and they must be studied. Let us have a look at some. Of course, my own practical experience on this matter has been in the military sphere, and therefore it is natural that I should look at this problem against that particular background. I believe that leadership is based on truth and character. I believe that a leader must himself be the servant of a truth., and who must make that truth the object of a common purpose. He must then have the force of character necessary to inspire others to follow him with confidence. Both are necessary -truth and character -- and there must be will-power in the character.

Once a leader ceases to tell the people under him the truth, he is finished -- as many political leaders have found out. He then has got to have infectious optimism and determination to persevere in the face of discipline. He must have a sound judgment in which other people can have confidence and he must have very good knowledge of human nature. I think he must also have self-control. Now, there are some people who think that pre-eminence in sport is undoubtedly a help in developing leadership. I wouldn't altogether agree with that. I think it may be a help., but it's in no way a necessity. What is a necessity is that he must be a good picker and chooser of men. If he is a political leader -a good chooser of ministers -- and good generals, too. Must have good generals. Now, when all's said and done, a true leader must be able to dominate, and finally to master the events which surround him. Once he lets events get the better of him., those under him will lose confidence and be will cease to be of any value as a leader.

I would like to state, here and now., my own conviction that it is not possible for leadership to be good and effective and able under stress and strain, unless it is based on a real sense of religious truth. The leader must be prepared to acknowledge that truth and to lead others in the light of it. I know very well that the military leader has got to keep his finger on the spiritual pulse of his army. That I know. And, unless he does that, he can expect no lasting success. Now, you can have leadership which is evil, and that leadership, while it may succeed temporarily, has always carried with it the seeds of its own destruction. Good examples of that would be Hitler and Mussolini. The proper name for such evil leadership I would call misleadership -- something false coming through a strong personality, and the stronger the personality the worse the ultimate crash.

I think it's vital to realize, at the outset, that the whole idea of leadership is regarded with deep suspicion by certain influential sections of western social opinion, and I think that arises partly from hatred of the debasement of the leadership principles in the twentieth century dictatorship -- partly from a genuine desire to ensure equality of opportunity for all children, for whom each democracy is responsible, and partly from very muddled thinking about the equality of man and the classless society. In the American Declaration of Independence it is stated that all men are created equal. It is, of course, quite untrue. And, even if it was true, they are certainly not equal in the United States! Thatís why I think there is a lot of muddled thinking about the equality of man. Now, it follows that little can be done until western opinion is re-educated to appreciate the crucial necessity of devoted and able leadership in all aspects of democratic life. Weíve got to scrummage as well as tackle, and the whole concept of leadership needs redefining and restating. We've got to get rid of the idea of the Ďbossí with his large cigar and his astrakhan collar and substitute in its place the devoted servant of his fellow men, working for many hours after the rest have 'knocked off'. In this world, there will always be heads and tails, There never can be a ship without a captain or a good team without a leader, in fact, it is captaincy which counts.

We can assume., I think, that in all branches of life, in a western democracy, a leader will always need certain attributes. Some would be the following: moral integrity and courage, sound judgment, vision, enthusiasm and the ability to get on with and to inspire human beings and to win their hearts. And, in all spheres of higher leadership, he would need very high intelligence as well. Now itís absurd to pretend that such a combination of properties in any one individual is at all common. But, on the other hand, much can be done to inculcate and develop these qualities by training. But I believe that we will make a great mistake if in trying to cast our nets as widely as possible for leaders we lavish our limited resources for leadership training on those who would always be amongst the led to the detriment of perpetual leaders. In allowing they might be led through no fault of their own, you might put it rather shortly by saying that leaders are a small class and must be taught in small classes.

Now, the student of leadership has got to realize certain facts, and here is one basic fact: Bottled up in men are great emotional thoughts. I use the expression Ďbottled upí because it conveys the impression that they can't get out of the bottle until you have drawn the cork. They are bottled up and they have got to get out. And they have got to have an outlet for these emotional forces in a way which is positive and constructive and which warns the hearts of men and excites their imagination. If you take a very large number of men, the total effect of these emotional forces can be terrific if they are all harnessed and directed to a common purpose. At one time in the late war I commanded two million men and the emotional forces bottled up in two million men are stupendous -- if you harness them properly, I have always told the soldiers what, together, and thatís important, together, we were going to do -- and why, and when, and what their part in the business would be, and how success or failure on their part would affect the whole battle plan. Once they knew these things, the soldiers won the battle -- I didn't, they did.

And there is a lesson for civil life, because the soldiers and the workers are tie same men. Now, I agree that there is a difference in that the worker has to be persuaded and cannot be given orders to do something he doesn't want to do. Now, of course, it's always a very good thing to persuade the soldiers that what you want them to do is right. but, in the upshot, you can give them orders, and they have to obey. But the lesson is comparable and in my profession of soldiering., because that's what I am -- I may not look like it tonight, but I am a soldier -- battles are won primarily in the hearts of men.

Here is another lesson for the student of leadership. He will often in this world meet men who are dissatisfied, and they are dissatisfied not so much with their own littleness as with the bigness of other people, and such men are incapable of trying to better their own positions, except by the relative method of dragging down their more fortunate acquaintances. He must beware of such men -- they plan to pull down and not to build up. I would tell him that you can generally recognize those men;,:-- they are shifty and untrustworthy.

Now, letís take a wider look at it. I have mentioned character as being an important attribute in a leader. What is character? What is it? Well, in its simplest terms, it is knowing what you want to do and having the determination to do it, and in a way which would inspire confidence in those around you. Now, our young student of leadership will often find that ordinary men, men with minds trained mechanically, men who are docile, and men who one might call 'yes men' (everyone knows what that means), those men will generally triumph in peace time over men of strong character possessing true insight and genius, and they will triumph in peace time because politicians prefer such men. The true attributes of leadership are decision and action, and these are not always popular with the political leader in peace time and I know very well. But, when a crisis occurs, when the nation is in urgent need of leaders with initiative who can be relied upon and who are prepared to take risks, then matters are seen in a very different light. A sort of ground swell brings the man of character and vision to the surface. He is needed, but he will probably be discarded when he has done his stuff -- and if you want an example of that -- I would give you Winston Churchill. There was a leader if you like. Terrific. This was a national leader in a time of crisis, who was discarded when he had done his stuff. All the world will clamour for men of character and decision when danger threatens, men who believe in themselves and who are prepared to take full control of the task in hand, men who are ready to launch great undertakings and who have the courage and determination to see the thing through to the end. Of course, such men must be prepared to disobey when necessary. If you go back to the First War, the Kaiserís war, when Admiral Jellicoe was commanding the British Fleet, and you remember the English failure to destroy the German Fleet at the Battle of Jutland., the first sea lord in London was Admiral Fisher (a pretty tough guy) and when he was reading Jellicoe's dispatch in White Hall, he exclaimed in a fury "He has all Nelson's qualities but one -- he doesn't know how to disobey". You have to know how to disobey -- I've found it necessary to disobey sometimes -- but if you disobey, you must be right.

Now, I would like to conclude with a word about our boys. We hear a good deal these days about juvenile delinquency. This, of course, is merely a more convenient expression for parental neglect. That's all it is. Our task today is to inspire the youth of the British Commonwealth with a common moral purpose and that purpose must be based on a conscious and ardent belief in the Christian faith. They must then be united behind leaders who regard that faith as the Communists regard theirs, and if we can do this, we will have nothing to fear, neither enemies nor economic troubles. Both will quite easily be overcome. I hold the view that the most important thing in the education of the young, or indeed in life generally, is a sense of purpose so strong as to enable a young man to face up to and overcome all difficulties. A sense of purpose -- and such a purpose can be built only on faith, and that faith can be given only in youth. But, it must be good faith. Bad faith lies at the root of most of our troubles in the world today -- bad faith. Now there, I believe, is the foundation on which all leadership training should be based.

Now sir, Iíd like to again express my tremendous appreciation for the great honour that you have done me here tonight at this gathering. Thank you very much.