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Success Archives - The Military CEO

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Army vs Navy Rugby 2018 – Leadership in Sport

Army vs Navy Rugby

On the 5th May 2018 the British Army and Royal Navy will compete in the 101st Army vs Navy rugby match at Twickenham. The match was first played on the 13th February 1878 and then has been played annually since 1909. This article will explore the idea of sport in the military, the role of leadership and team building in sport and how sport can be used in the civilian workplace.

But first, some facts (and rumours) about the Babcock Series.

Facts (& rumours)

  • In the history of the match the Army have won 61 times with the Navy winning 35 (and 4 draws in between). (Fact)
  • The Army vs Navy Rugby match draws the largest audience of any non-professional sports fixtures in Europe. (Rumour)
  • The 99th series in 2016 drew the biggest crowd of the series with a full stadium of 81,323 spectators. (Fact)
  • Twickenham sells more beer during the Army vs Navy game than they do throughout the rest of the year! (Rumour)
  • Since 1909 the match has been played every single year with the exception of the two World Wars (1914-19 and 1940-45). (Fact)
  • The largest victory was in 2009 when the British Army beat the Royal Navy  50-7. (Fact)

Sport in the British Army

According to the National Army Museum “The British Army has been responsible for establishing many of the sports we know and love today. It has also helped spread activities like football, polo and hockey throughout the world.” For example, a note was scribbled onto the back of the sketch below that said ‘Copied from Sketch done at the time by me. The 59th Regt. played 15 officers against 15 officers of the Candahar Garrison & beat them. I suppose that this was the first game of football ever played in Afghanistan’.

Football being played in Afghanistan for the first time.

Football being played in Afghanistan for the first time.

This is just one of many examples, but why has sport always been so prevalent in the British Army?

A Joint Services Publication (JSP 660) identifies sport as contributing to:

  • Fitness
  • Teamwork
  • Leadership
  • Self-discipline & courage
  • Determination
  • Co-ordination
  • Competitive-spirit
  • Individual & collective resilience

Clearly all of the above go someway to increase our soldier’s operational effectiveness but it’s easy to see that these are all traits you might want from your team members or employees.

The Benefits of Sport for all (even civilian) Employees

To a CEO the idea of facilitating your employees to play sport to any degree might not seem cost effective. However when the previous points are each considered on their own merit the advantages are obvious.


Having a fit employee is tantamount to having a healthy employee. Countless studies have shown that employees who exercise regularly are more focused when at work and are off sick less!


Clearly the benefits here are obvious. When your employees play a team sport it makes them feel like a team and can even harbour a social relationship. This can help the team to understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses as well as encourage your employees to strive for team goals.


Leadership in sport is one of the most studied areas in which leadership is practiced. Rather than trying to summarise leadership in sport I would recommend to anyone in business or interested in leadership to read Legacy.

Self Discipline & Courage

Self discipline is what, when things get difficult, will keep your team doing the right thing. It’s what will stop your employees from cutting corners and self-motivate to work towards the common team goal. Courage is what gives your employees their confidence and, in the face of difficult decisions, it is moral courage that will ensure an employee acts in line with the team values. Read more about self discipline and courage in 2017’s Army Leadership Code.

Individual & Collective Resilience

Teams win together and teams lose together. When a team loses together, whether on a project or on a sports field, what’s important is how they react. Sport allows a team to understand different coping mechanisms with failure. These, then practiced in the workplace can lead to a team that is able to bounce back from set backs and continue to work to the end goal.

Can it Work for you?

When looking at companies like Google and Apple who encourage their staff to play sport in work time you might be thinking “I can’t afford to let my employees do that!”. But you’d be wrong. Not only can sport be free to play, it doesn’t even need to be played during work hours – the truth is that you can’t afford not to try if you’re serious about leading a team and not just managing a company.

Have Your Say

Is this a model that is really scalable for small to medium sized businesses or just an idealistic views that disregards the realities of running a company? Let me know in Your Thoughts or comment below and as always i’ll reply and may even elaborate on your thought in a future post.

-The Military CEO

Royal Military Academy Sandhurst LGBT. Equality and Diversity

2018 New British Army Equality And Diversity Campaign

Most people living in the UK will have seen the British Army’s new (and controversial) recruitment campaign.  You may have also noticed the equality and diversity theme throughout.  This article is going to look at the importance of equality and diversity in The British Army and why it’s just as important in an ordinary workplace.

Can I Be Gay In The Army. Equality and Diversity - The Military CEO

One of the campaign advertisements

The Recruitment Campaign

In early 2018 The British Army released a campaign to recruit more people from a diversity of genders, sexualities, ethnicities and faiths.  In a series of animations released on social media, the campaign positively answers questions such as “Can I be gay in the army?” and “What if I get emotional in the army?”.  General Sir Nick Carter, the chief of the general staff, said The Army needed to change how it recruited and looked after trainees. Speaking to BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, he denied claims that the “This is belonging 2018” campaign showed the army had “gone soft”.

I agree that the campaign doesn’t mean that The Army has gone soft. I do think however that it shows The Army is moving in the right direction to adopt its equality and diversity policies.

Whether the campaign has been successful will be difficult to measure but it depends in the way you measure its success.  If you are measuring it from a recruitment point of view, then i’m not sure if appealing to minorities is the best way to deal with The British Army’s recruitment crisis. However if the aim of the campaign is to convince the public that as an organisation we’re making an effort to ‘move with the times’ then maybe yes, it might have been successful.

It is however my opinion that the campaign IS representative of our values and standards. Read more about our values and standards in an article about The British Army’s New Leadership Code.

Regardless, any publicity is good publicity, so let’s look at the idea of equality and diversity in the workplace.

What Does Equality And Diversity In The British Army Mean?

A Harvard Business Review article recognises the link between good leadership and embracing equality and diversity in the workplace.  But before we even begin to understand why we embrace it, the first consideration should be that it’s the law!

The 2010 Equality Act protects employees against discrimination against the following things:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Gender Reassignment
  • Marriage and Civil Partnership
  • Race
  • Religion or Belief
  • Sex
  • Sexual Orientation

Can The British Army Discriminate?

Yes It Can.

The British Army can, and does (in certain circumstances), sensitively discriminate against the following things:

  • Age
  • Disability
  • Sex

Briefly summarised, age is discriminated against in that there are limits on recruitment ages. Disability is discriminated against in certain circumstances when someone would not be able to carry out their duty as a soldier. And finally, sex is discriminated against as females are currently unable to perform certain roles in the military. Sex is the most controversial of the 3 at the moment with females able to fill more and more roles they were previously unable to.

In certain instances The Army can also enforce dress and appearance regulations. Great care is taken however to try and prevent an infringement on people’s religious beliefs.

Why Is Equality And Diversity Important In The Army?

There are many reasons that come to me when thinking about this question.  But in every instance it is my opinion that diversity allows for a more effective fighting unit and team. Read my article that explores the equality in the pay structure in the British Army.

Listed below are just a few of the reasons:

Understanding Other Cultures

A soldier that is able to associate with a culture that the British Army may be operating in provides a huge advantage. Whether it’s due to the soldier’s upbringing, religion or region of upbringing; being able to empathise with local nationals and understand local traditions can often be more valuable than any other type of intelligence.

The British Army talk to local nationals in Afghanistan, 2008. Equality and Diversity

The British Army talk to local nationals in Afghanistan, 2008.

Speaking Other Languages

For many of the reasons listed previously some soldiers are multi-lingual. In non-English speaking regions we are required to use interpreters. Having a soldier on your patrol that speaks the native language is invaluable!

A Diversity Of Skills

I don’t need 30 soldiers that are expert shots. The British Army requires expert medics, cooks and engineers too. It requires people that are compassionate, people that are strong and people that are clever. If you know someone who is an expert at all of the above and more, send that person my way – but the point is that different people of different cultures, religions and sexes may be better at different things.

A Diversity Of Experiences

Some of my soldiers have been in The Army since 16 whilst others have held civilian jobs for 10+ years before joining. This not only gives us the ability to understand the differences when working with civilians but also take advantage of those skills learnt, and in some cases mastered, before joining The Army.

Because It’s The Right Thing To Do

As an army we preach morals, ethics and values. As a leader how can we preach values in certain instances and not in arguably the most important instance.

What You Should Do As A Leader To Encourage Equality And Diversity

There are many things you can do as a leader. Some are easy and some much more difficult.

Recruit Equally and Diversely

This is the easiest of all if you’re in the position to do it.  But practice what you preach and do what the heading says, recruit equally and diversely.

Challenge Inappropriate Language and Behaviour

This ties nicely into the saying “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept”. I’ll let the previous Australian Chief of Army Lieutenant General David Morrison explain. This is one of my favourite videos of all time when teaching values and standards.

Manage Banter

As a leader ensure that you’re very clear about where the line is between harassment or bullying and banter. This leads nicely on to enforcing another of my favourite phrases.

The intent of what you do or say does not matter, it is the impact of what you do that you’ll be judged on.

Encourage Inclusivity

As every post i’ve written suggests, a manager has employees, a leader has a team. You are just one person so it is imperative you encourage an inclusive culture and expect it of every single one of your team.

Have Your Say

Equality and diversity in the armed forces is controversial in almost every army around the world. Do you think that there still remains a place for discrimination in the armed forces and to what extent? Let me know in Your Thoughts or comment below and as always i’ll reply and may even elaborate on your thought in a future post.

-The Military CEO

US Army Leadership Risk Assessment

Stop Gambling in Business Start Taking Risks

Reason 3 of ‘15 Top Reasons You’re Managing Not Leading‘ explains the importance of taking risks. Not only do you need to take risks for your business to be successful but you need to encourage your team to take risks too. A business that doesn’t take risks can become stagnant and very quickly lose to competitors in the market.

However before you can comfortably start taking risks you need to understand how to do it properly. This post will explain the differences between taking a risk and a gamble so that you don’t get caught out!

In the military it’s only by taking risks that we can gain the advantage over the enemy. But at what cost? It’s my job to make sure i’ve weighed up the cost vs reward. My boss says that he’ll always encourage us to take risks so long as we can justify our reasons. This should be the same in your team. As a leader you’re responsible not only for achieving results, but responsible for any consequences.

Don’t You Dare Take A Gamble – You’re Better Than That!

As a leader I never tolerate gambling and neither should you. Anyone can gamble, it requires no skill, no knowledge, no experience, only luck. Well you’re not a leader because you’re lucky, you’ve got to where you are because you have all the traits listed above.

Are you really going to rely on luck to get you to where you need to go?

Let’s consider 2 examples of a gamble. The first will be based on a business scenario and the second on my military experience . Later on in this post i’ll come back to these scenarios and explore how you could take a risk rather than a gamble.

Example 1: Investing in a new employee

Business has been going ok recently but as the leader you feel you’d benefit from a new member of staff. You’re not sure if the extra member of staff will increase your team’s productivity enough to pay their salary. But you ‘might as well take the risk’. This isn’t taking a risk, this is a gamble!

Example 2: Clearing an enemy village

I’ve been given the mission to clear (remove) the enemy from a village they’re known to have occupied. In this village there are 3 large buildings but the enemy are only using one of them as their headquarters. Now due to the size of the buildings i’ll need to use my whole team even to clear just 1 building.

The only additional complication is that if I attack the wrong building I will lose the element of surprise and would give the enemy a chance to prepare to defend their position. I need to catch them off guard!

If I were a leader that took gambles I can relax. No planning required! I’ll pick 1 of the 3 buildings and cross my fingers.

This is a gamble!

How to Take Risks

Assessing risk is a calculated way of considering the threats or opportunities presented by doing something. When you take a risk you consider the benefits, the consequences and the likelihood of it going either way. In the military we like to turn the complicated process of considering risks into a simple formula.

Leadership Take Risks Don't Gamble

You assign a numeric value to the consequence of something happening and to the likelihood of it happening. You can use any variety of values but I tend to prefer to use values such as those listed below.






It’s important to remember that a consequence can either be an extreme positive or negative – this works for both threats and opportunities! Once you’ve decided the values put them in to the formula (multiply them by one another) and you’ll have a value.

To keep things simple you could also use the table below.

Once you have your final ‘Risk Value’ you can use it to compare certain courses of action.

What To Do With The Risk

There are several things you can do once you’ve identified the risk which are listed below.

  • Tolerate – You may decide that the risk is tolerable and whilst you’ve noted it you will do nothing specific about it.
  • Treat – You may decide that the risk is too high and therefore put in mitigating measures to try and change the likelihood or consequences of something happening.
  • Transfer – If you feel that the risk is ‘above your pay scale’ then transfer it up. Ask someone senior to you to consider the risk. They can then decide to tolerate, treat, transfer or terminate the risk.
  • Terminate – If you decide the risk is too great then you can simply get rid of it. An example of this would be if you identified that a particular supplier is likely to miss a payment with you and the consequence of this is high, you could just find a new supplier.

In the military we use the final risk value to determine at what level that risk can be tolerated. For example to take an extreme risk (value 20-25) would need signing off at a very high level. More frequently however the severity of the risk will determine what ‘treating’ factors need to be introduced to limit either the consequence or likelihood of something taking place.

It’s important to frequently reconsider your risk assessment too! Circumstances can change which could alter your final risk value.

In a world that is changing quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks – Mark Zuckerberg

Let’s consider the examples from earlier and use this formula to assess the risk.

Example 1: Investing in a new employee

When considering employing a new team member there are a series of opportunities and threats presented by the option. When doing the risk assessment you find that the consequence of the employee doing well or badly is large as you only have a few employees in total. You also decide, based on your interview, that you feel the likelihood of your employee performing poorly is moderate. This has given you a total risk value which you could compare to other candidates. It also gives you the opportunity to:

  • Tolerate the risk (hope for the best – but at least it’s been recognised).
  • Treat the risk (assign a mentor to reduce the likelihood of poor performance).
  • Terminate the risk (don’t employ the candidate).

Example 2: Clearing an enemy village

In this instance I would try to gather as much information as possible about the enemy and about the village. By doing this i’m potentially decreasing the likelihood of me picking the wrong building. The point with this is that i’ve done everything I can to reduce the chance of me picking the wrong building. At that point I must then decide whether to tolerate the ‘residual risk’ or terminate the operation.

Have Your Say

I’m curious to know at what level you let your team or employees take risks? Is it encouraged? Is even the lowest subordinate free to take risks? And does it work for you? Let me know in Your Thoughts or comment below and as always i’ll reply and may even elaborate on your thought in a future post.

-The Military CEO

Team addressing the British Army on the Army Leadership Code 2017

2017 The New British Army Leadership Code

This article by The Military CEO will explore the new British Army Leadership Code so that you can try and apply it within your team. Developed in the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst the Army Leadership Code has been based on both experience and academic studies. With the work already done for you why not see if you can improve your leadership style and subsequently the team around you.

Since writing this article a great example of the British Army practicing what it preaches can be found when looking at their brand new advertising campaign!

The Army Leadership Code

General Sir Nick Carter is currently the professional head of the British Army as the Chief of General Staff. In September 2015 the CGS released the Army Leadership Code as a leadership guide for both soldiers and officers. The code consists of 7 behaviours that with a mixture of coaching techniques can create the ultimate team. This article will break them down so that you might be able to adopt them in your work place. Watch General Sir Nick Carter and the Army Sergeant Major talk about why the Army Leadership Code is important below.

Your leaders, junior or senior will be developed by following the code, so that they are supported and challenged to do the right thing every time. It helps all to be an outstanding member of a team that will succeed whenever and wherever called upon to do their duty.

Our Values and Standards

The British Army’s values have founded The Army Leadership Code. These values are:

  • Courage
  • Discipline
  • Respect for others
  • Integrity
  • Loyalty
  • Selfless commitment
The 9 values and standards of the British Army

The British Army’s Values and Standards

They represent what the British Army stands for and what set us apart from society. We apply our values through our standards which remind our Army to act:

  • Appropriately
  • Lawfully
  • Totally Professionally

These ‘Values and Standards’ of the British Army are not new. However the Army Leadership Code simply pulls together what has been proven to work throughout history and most recently on operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The New Army Leadership Code

The Army Leadership Code consists of seven leadership behaviours:

  • Lead by example
  • Encourage thinking
  • Apply reward and discipline
  • Demand high performance
  • Encourage confidence in the team
  • Recognise individual strengths and weaknesses
  • Strive for team goals

The Theory Behind It

The code has been developed from the concept known as ‘values based leadership’. For some years now this has been applied in British Army training establishments .

The Army Leadership Code draws from academic leadership theory with empirical evidence that proves it works. At the heart of the Army leadership Code are the 7 leadership behaviours listed above developed from the principles of transformational and transactional leadership theory.

The seven leadership behaviours of the British Army Leadership Code 2017

The Army Leadership Code @ArmySgtMajor

Lead By Example

You cannot lead people beyond where you’re willing to go yourself. All leaders are role models and must demonstrate your team’s values in everything you do. Whether in or out of the team environment a leader must demonstrate behaviour that aligns with the team’s values. By consistently doing so, a leader will be considered an authentic leader who ‘walks the walk’ as well as ‘talking the talk’. Read my article that explores how the British Army pays its employees is a great example of leadership.

Encourage Thinking

The brain, like a muscle, develops through use. Leaders must encourage those they lead to think by giving them problems that stretch them. Individuals must be encouraged to ‘Think outside the box’, finding an innovative solution to problems is a fine quality. Giving people the opportunity to think and suggest ideas demonstrates respect for others, generates trust and confidence therefore building loyalty.

Apply Reward And Discipline

It is human nature to enjoy being praised, and reward recognises effort, inspiring further endeavour and motivation. Leaders must apply a full range of rewards, from formal recognition to timely and regular praise. You should never underestimate the value of a ‘Well Done’ or ‘Good Effort’. Reward should be constructive and support the individual or team in further optimising performance. The correct application of reward promotes loyalty and respect for others.

The application of discipline, regardless of seniority is crucial to correct failings and reprimand transgressions. Leaders must not shy away from discipline when required and do so in a timely fashion. Ensure that an appropriate process of discipline escalation is outlined within your team or organisation.

Demand High Performance

Any team will experience an amount of external competition. Whether it’s business competition for clients or contracts or sporting competition. Leaders should have high performance expectations and communicate them to their teams. This applies to every part of your organisation in order to support one another. A word of caution, performance expectations must be tuned to the team and achievable, otherwise they can be de-motivational.

Encourage Confidence in the Team

Leaders must inspire and motivate their teams to achieve. This is done by demonstrating confidence in their abilities, and talking enthusiastically about success. Reinforce the importance of teamwork, and show trust in the authority of the team.

Recognise Individual Strengths and Weaknesses

Every person has something to offer the team, and everybody has areas requiring development. Leaders must identify these individual strengths and weaknesses and address them accordingly, to ensure that the team fulfils its potential and achieves all it can achieve.

Strengths must be played to, and challenged to inspire confidence and motivate additional effort to stretch even further, always seeking to optimise performance.

Try and address and discuss weaknesses in an understanding and considerate manner. Focus on the root of the problem and the potential to improve rather than the current impact of the weaknesses.

Coaching techniques are extremely useful in addressing both individual strengths and weaknesses.

Strive for Team Goals

Teams will always achieve more than the individual, but the difference between good and great teams is usually the degree of team spirit that bonds them together. Challenging the team to accept and strive for shared goals will create shared purpose, bind them together and foster esprit de corps. The team should be inspired by a variety of goals whether they’re business based, sporting or otherwise (e.g. charitable).

Have Your Say

As explained this is the British Army Leadership Code, whilst i’m a firm believer do you think this particular code could be adopted in a business organisation? Let me know in Your Thoughts or comment below and as always i’ll reply and may even elaborate on your thought in a future post.

-The Military CEO

Difference between Responsibility vs Accountability

Best Tips to Success: Responsibility vs Accountability

As an Officer in the Armed Forces I have a legal, professional and moral obligation to ensure I delegate responsibility but remain accountable. This requires great trust in your team but if achieved can lead to substantial results and ultimately success for you and your team! The age old question is understanding the differences between responsibility vs accountability.

You Need to Delegate Responsibility

In the Army as a young commander I have 30 men and women to achieve any task that might be required. In the future I will likely have a team of up to 200 men and women to achieve much more complex tasks. The point is, to be a successful leader and to complete the task to the best of my ability, I need to delegate.

The following list shows 5 top reasons it’s absolutely imperative to delegate:

  1. It’s your job, you can’t do the work of a 30 person team.
  2. Your team know more than you do in their own fields.
  3. It will encourage team ‘buy in’, this will engage team members with tasks and motivate them to see the project’s success.
  4. Let your team members develop from experience and the team around you will get stronger!
  5. You need to focus your time else where on grand strategy etc.

For more information on why you need to delegate read 5 Reasons You Need To Delegate Your Way To Success.

No Matter What, You’re Still Accountable

The Business Dictionary defines accountability as:

The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.

I look at accountability as the residual responsibility. When you assign someone responsibility of a task they’re responsible for carrying out the task. But ultimately you’re still responsible for the outcomes of the task. That’s not to say it’s not the team member’s fault. But that fault must be shared by yourself because you’re the one who chose to give that task responsibility to that individual.

Lets consider 3 examples of the accountability vs responsibility debate with a professional, legal and ethical scenario.  Some of these examples are based on situations I come across in my day to day job. However all these examples are also suitably relevant to a business scenario.

Example 1: Moral Responsibility vs Accountability

This example is particularly recent for me. As a commander within my platoon we get certain newspapers delivered to our brew room (staff room) daily. Now it’s the duty of one of my subordinates to organise the delivery and the payment for the papers (from platoon funds).

In a recent review of our funds I realised we hadn’t been charged for papers in over a month. I asked the individual responsible for our papers how this could be as we’ve still been receiving papers. The platoon member explained that the local shop that provides the papers has obviously been forgetting to charge us. This particular person therefore decided not to raise the issue for the benefit of the platoon.

As the Platoon Commander it’s my duty as the ‘moral compass’ to ensure that our team’s values are kept. The payments got backdated and the team were able to see our values being put into practice. If you can exhibit your own team’s values when it’s easy to do otherwise, then you will gain the respect of your team and hopefully encourage your team to work and live by those values also.

Example 2: Legal Responsibility vs Accountability

Let’s say that as a CEO you employ an accountant. Clearly you employ that accountant because you neither have the skill nor the time to manage your own books. Your accountant does your finances for the year and it gets audited. The next thing you know you have a letter from HM Revenue & Customs saying you owe tax.

You dig a little deeper into the situation and it turns out your accountant hadn’t been particularly thorough and made some miscalculations. You as the CEO gave that responsibility to your accountant but it’s you as the CEO who may be fined. One could argue that you as the CEO isn’t to blame at all. But who employed that accountant? Who’s responsible for that accountant’s continual professional development and training?

Example 3: Professional Responsibility vs Accountability

In my Regiment we have frequent Military Transport (MT) checks to ensure our vehicles are in good working order. Last year, with a large check due, my Officer Commanding (my boss) told me to check my platoon’s vehicles. I was responsible for about 15 vehicles and was no where near qualified to conduct mechanical or electrical checks. However I was also command of a platoon of 30 men many of whom were qualified to conduct these checks.

I assigned the responsibility of these checks to my Section Commanders (my sub-team leaders) and explained that once they’ve supervised the men completing their checks to let me know. A couple of days passed and my Section Commanders informed me that all the checks have been completed and the vehicles are in good order. I walked around the vehicle park with my Section Commanders whilst they showed me any problems and gave me what we call a ‘warm fuzzy feeling’.

I compiled the report and sent it up to my boss. That was the end of it…

…Or so I thought. A couple of weeks later the Quarter Master (person in charge of all the kit) did a check and found an issue with my checks. Before I knew it I was in my boss’s office explaining why I’d failed to appropriately carry out the checks.

Now, was it really my fault? After all, I wasn’t the person even qualified to carry out the checks. The answer is yes, of course it’s my fault. Whilst I may have delegated responsibility of the task to one of my subordinates it’s impossible for me to delegate the responsibility for the outcomes of the task, in other words I was still accountable.

I had to take full responsibility to my boss and explain i’d fix the situation. I did not explain it wasn’t my fault and shift the blame to my subordinates. That would be the worst thing I could have done. Not only would my boss lose respect for me so would my team.

Deal with Accountability Don’t Just Accept it.

In all of these instances just because you might be ultimately responsible or accountable for the task doesn’t mean that your team members haven’t done anything wrong! Whilst you need to deal with the consequences of your team letting you down you also need to get to the bottom of what went wrong. This may allow you to highlight an issue within the team that can then be dealt with.

What To Do Next

The need to delegate responsibility to your team is inescapable if you wish to be successful. Therefore you must come to terms with the fact that the only answer is to invest in your team. Allow them time to train, try new things and develop personally and professionally.

Sometimes by making it very clear to what extent responsibility has been delegated to those within your team there is less chance of that responsibility being dismissed. In the Army when running projects we use something called the RACI Matrix.

The RACI Matrix

The RACI Matrix is basically a responsibility assignment matrix. It allows you to clearly show who is responsible, accountable, consulted and informed throughout the progress of a project.

The example RACI Matrix below shows an example of how it can be used.

  •  R – Responsible
    • Who is/will be doing the task?
    • Who is assigned to work on this task?
  • A – Accountable
    • Who’s going to be the one in trouble if this goes wrong?
    • Who has the authority to take decision?
  • C – Consulted
    • Anyone who can tell me more about this task.
    • Any stakeholders already identified?
  • I – Informed
    • Anyone whose work depends on this task.
    • Who has to be kept updated about the task’s progress?

Have Your Say

I’m curious to know if you can think of an example when you as the team leader shouldn’t be accountable for your team’s actions? Let me know in Your Thoughts or comment below and as always i’ll reply and may even elaborate on your thought in a future post.

-The Military CEO


Barack Obama meets with General Stanley A. McChrystal in the Oval Office 2009 05 19.

The TED Talk That Changed The Way I Lead

The Beginning

I knew I wanted to join the Army well before i’d even gone to university, but at 15 there’s only so much you can learn about what it’s like to be an Officer. Naturally I began to Google and search around on the internet in the hope of finding some inspiration. However after several hours searching I realised no video or article was going to teach me how to lead. And that was the end of it.

5 Years Later

Fast forward a couple of years and i’ve commissioned from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, the British Army’s leadership academy. Much more interested now to find leadership inspiration I turned back to the web. This time however my search took me to a series of TED Talks. If a TED Talk is new to you i’d certainly recommend giving a few a watch here. There was one particular TED Talk which I found absolutely awe-inspiring and i’d like to share it with you.

The TED Talk That Changed Leadership For Me

The TED Talk was delivered by 4 Star General Stanley McChrystal of the United States Army in March 2011. In his talk he shares with us his experiences of leadership over the decades and focuses on 2 key skills he feels are fundamental to successfully leading a team.

Leaders can let you fail but yet not let you be a failure

-General Stanley McChrystal

Listen, Learn… then Lead

Your Thoughts

In this post and many of my others I have expressed that to be a successful leader you must take full advantage of the extraordinary skills your team members likely have to offer. As a CEO or any other kind of team leader, what is the most desirable skill that you look for in an employee or team member? Let me know either at Your Thoughts or in the comments below and as always i’ll respond and may even elaborate in a future post.

-The Military CEO

5 Reasons You Need To Delegate Your Way To Success

In the Army as a young commander I have 30 men and women to achieve any task that might be required. In the future I will likely have a team of up to 200 men and women to achieve much more complex tasks. The point is, to be a successful leader and to complete the task to the best of my ability, I need to delegate.

This post will explain 5 reasons that you need to let someone else do the job. My old Commanding Officer once said to me:

In order to lead you must delegate, delegate until it’s uncomfortable and then delegate some more

1. Delegate, It’s your job!

People don’t mind doing their job. In my experience, when ‘the guys’ are sat around not doing anything and I have a job for them they’ll always complain. But, and it’s a big but, you must realise people are going to complain about anything. If you don’t give people work to do they’ll very quickly become bored, unmotivated and uninspired. There’s a lot of studies that suggest when you work hard your brain stimulation can lead to a healthier body and social life.

But ultimately as a CEO you simply can’t put in the work hours your staff can. As a young commander i’d need to be working 30 hour days to match my platoons potential even if everyone only worked 1 hour a day!

2. Delegate, you’re not the subject matter expert!

It’s impossible to know everything your employees know. This doesn’t make you a less professionally competent person, it makes you normal. Do you think that Richard Branson knows how to drive one of his trains? I certainly don’t know how to operate half the vehicles my team can.

Your value as a leader isn’t knowing how to do everything, it’s knowing who can do what and getting them to do it! This boils down to something we call the SWOT analysis. If you can identify who is good at what in your team you can efficiently achieve the goals required whilst giving your employees purpose.

Don’t be shy about it either. If there’s something you can’t do, or someone can do better, tell them! Not only are you building their confidence but you’re showing humility. Reason 4 on 5 Reasons you Need to Make Mistakes to be Successful explains the importance of being humble.

Delegate: Delegation 101

Delegation 101

3. Delegate, encourage team member ‘buy in’

As a CEO it’s your job to make a project work as well as possible. Clearly your motivations for a project succeeding are obvious but what are your team members’ motivations? They are, after all, the people who will be carrying out the task. Study after study will tell us that if you have a vested interest in something you’re going to put tonnes more effort into seeing it succeed. This is where you aim to get your team members to ‘buy in’ to an idea, task or project.

Buy in is a term we use in the military referring to the process of getting your team members to run with a project like it’s their own. There are several ways you should do this. The easy one is a reward of some kind. Clearly if the employee knows that doing a good job will lead to financial reward they have a vested interest in the project’s success. This however is an unreliable win. It instills a selfish ethos in your team and can lead to spoilt team members.

A much better way of achieving buy in is to let your team plan the project. Clearly as the CEO you will set the parameters, the constraints, freedoms and target outcomes but if you let your team develop the plan themselves then they’re far more likely to want to see it succeed. This is a win-win situation. You have motivated employees but you also have the benefit of their creativity. In the long term this will lead to a much more reliable team with a great work ethic.

4. Delegate, let your employees personally develop

Unless you let your team take on tasks you think you could probably do quicker yourself, you’ll never have staff that can do it for you. That’s because people learn by doing and making mistakes. You have to let teams make their own mistakes! Read here for more on why it’s important to make mistakes. If you let your team do the trickier jobs you could do better, before too long you’ll have a whole team that’s better at doing certain jobs than you are – now that is how a team becomes successful!

5. Delegate, focus your time elsewhere

There’s a reason you’re the CEO, manager or team leader. It’s because you have a set of managerial and leadership skills that your team might not. By allowing your team to complete tasks within their remit, you allow yourself time to complete tasks that only you can do. Whether that’s planning grand strategy, having key engagements with clients or preparing a whole new business plan; these are the things that will drive your business or team into success – You just need to make sure you have time to do it!

Have your say

If you feel that these are strategies that you (or your boss) has successfully or unsuccessfully adopted and have real life anecdotes I’d love to hear from you. Let me know in the comments below or on Your Thoughts – as always i’ll reply and may even elaborate on your story in a further article.

-The Military CEO


5 Reasons You Need To Make Mistakes To Be Successful

Leadership is all about setting examples, developing yourself and those around you. Dealing with the insecurities we have is one of the most important steps when leading people around us. Once you have learnt to accept that people make mistakes and that making one doesn’t undermine your competency then you can really start to succeed as an individual and within a team.

One thing is certain in business. You and everyone around you will make mistakes.

-Richard Branson

This article will outline 5 reasons you need to make mistakes to be successful!

1. Creating an innovative and honest environment

When you make a mistake don’t try and cover it up, don’t even just deal with it, announce it! When those around you can see that messing up isn’t going to cost them their pride, or worse their job, people will start to be honest with their mistakes. Honest team members not only leads to better what we call in the Army damage limitation but people won’t be as afraid to push themselves.

Previously when i’ve allowed people to take risks without the fear of reprisal i’ve been astounded with the results my team have produced. For a business to succeed it needs a team of thinkers, not robots!

2. Everyone else can learn from your mistakes

Lets say a mistake costs you a deadline, a client or a load of money. Try and see that mistake as an opportunity to get everyone together, explain the mistake and work out a way to prevent it happening again. This could save your business a lot of money and associates a positive outcome from an otherwise negative action.

After every mission in the British Army we have something called an After Action Review (AAR). These present opportunities for the whole team to learn what worked well and what didn’t. The findings should always be recorded and slowly your business will develop a set of procedures referred to in the Army as doctrine.

If mistakes are made, learn from it and move on.

If mistakes are made, learn from it and move on.

3. Failure fuels your ambition

Who was the last millionaire you’ve heard of that hasn’t had hiccups along the way? You’ll be hard pushed to find a successful person who hasn’t suffered knock backs and that’s for a very good reason. We all know what failure feels like, it sucks, so nothing is a better motivation than that disappointment. When you’ve been close to the precipice of failure you know what it looks like and suddenly realise how much you’re going to try to avoid it.

4. A leader needs to be a people person

For people to respect you and subsequently want to be lead by you, you need to be human. To an employee the CEO can be some godly figure not subject to the ordinary laws of life. Don’t start to believe it! When (not if) you make a mistake and you admit it, you humble yourself. Being humble allows those around you to perceive your human nature. Subsequently you’ve just allowed your team members to aspire to be in a position such as yours. Employee success is the key to business success. I’ll soon be releasing a post explaining why you shouldn’t fear ambitious employees, they’re not coming for your job!

5. No one got rich without taking risks

Whether you’re thinking about expanding the business, adopting a new strategy or pursuing a niche in the market you’re taking a risk. But in every case there is the potential for great rewards.

It’s important to distinguish between a risk and a gamble. A risk is a calculated decision informed by sound predictions, a gamble can be made without any information. In the Army we judge risk by the probability of something happening vs the consequence of it happening.

Ultimately however without taking risks you’ll just continue to tread water until you become irrelevant. Once you have come to terms with the fact you might make a mistake if you take a risk, and be comfortable with failure, you can start to take more risks.

Have your say

When was the last time you saw a boss or colleague make a mistake and it be dealt with in a way that you thought was either detrimental or positive to the team cohesion? Let us know in the comments below or on Your Thoughts – as always i’ll try and reply and may even elaborate on your story in a further article.

-The Military CEO

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