Book Title: SAS Who Dares Wins – Leadership Secrets from the Special Forces
Authors: Middleton, Fox, Ollerton, Machlachlan
My Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟
What is the book about?
The authors of the book: Anthony Middleton, Colin Maclachan, Jason ‘Foxy’ Fox and Matthew ‘Ollie’ Ollerton are all part of the hit Channel 4 TV series ‘SAS: Who Dares Wins’. For those of you who haven’t seen it, the show follows these Directing Staff (who have all served in the Special Forces), as they put ordinary men and women through their paces. Now when I say ordinary people, all of the candidates have a level of fitness that is way above the average person.
The activities that the candidates take on aim to emulate the strategies used in forces selection and it is pretty brutal at times. The recruits are pushed to their physical, mental and emotional limits over a number of days. They use strategies such as sleep deprivation, which any parent with a child who doesn’t sleep will know is hard going.
I find it fascinating to observe how they use the strategies and how the candidates respond.
It is ultimate people watching!
So, back to the book…
The book discusses everyday experiences from home and work life that can be challenging; and gives advice on how to use the tried and tested strategies of the Special Forces to overcome them.
There is advice on negotiation, people management, self-motivation and resilience. The practical examples are varied, here is an example based on a school:
“Manage your staff’s skill sets: list your team and detail their strengths and weaknesses. It might be that you’re presented with an abundence of language teachers and a shortage of experienced heads of year. In which case, the next time a vacancy on your staff comes up it might be worth approaching an ambitious young teacher with ideas of eventually progressing to a headteacher role, rather than a budding French tutor.”
What did I think of the book?
The first thing I should probably disclose here, is that I am a huge fan of the TV show (if you hadn’t already guessed), so their is probably some pre-existing bias towards loving the book.
The book is packed with practical advice and tips, along with a number of real life examples from each of the four Directing Staff. I have always thought of the military as secretive and its training programmes fascinate me. So, it’s really interesting to learn more about the techniques and strategies; and how some of what they use can transfer in to business leadership.
The book is easy to read and doesn’t waffle. For example, one section discusses what to do if you experience the wobbles because of the pressure of leadership. They give practical tips, such as reminding yourself you’ve been given the job for a reason; accept the fear – use the anxiety; use fear to maintain focus – see it as a chance to shine and always slow down the situation down in times of stress. This advice is followed by real examples of applying it to being a gym manager.
The book is well worth reading. I will leave you with this final quote about the importance of admin:
“Admin: it’s a word we use all the time in the military and it can be applied to a variety of situations. How you care for your kit can be categorised as ‘admin’. Likewise, personal hygiene, preparing target packs or planning missions. It’s all classed as administration, and how you manage it can sometimes be the difference between life and death. But civilian leaders should understand the importance of good admin, too. It can save us time and improve our efficiency, whatever the situation.”