The Book is an easy read, not only for its flow but for the larger than usual very readable print. As I read on I tried to decide whether a military career was useful in understanding the lessons that the four ‘Special Forces’ joint authors were putting over to the reader, I decided that it definitely was, though not really essential, but indeed very useful.
- Middleton, Ollerton Fox & macLachland
I found the ‘Special Forces’ stories, both the training and operational and the different experiences of each author to be completely absorbing. They discussed each of their own periods of ‘SAS or SBS’ selection, and their reason for wanting to do it. ( I was not aware that the one selection system was used for both SAS and SBS) Their individual descriptions of the Selection phase; the cold the wet and the pain and sweat, made me as an ex-infantryman feel very comfortable indeed in my warm chair in front of a log fire
The four guide the reader through four phases of Selection, each phases from the Brecon Beacons to Hereford and the Jungle phase in Belize. Overcoming the massive bodily strain of each of these episodes was then used to explain where it could be used in building business leadership within the ‘command element’ of large businesses. Sadly they never once touched on small or medium business leadership which is the biggest employer of people in the UK, but aimed each time at the large Corporate Companies and National football teams. ‘Leadership is of course Leadership’ but small companies do not send large delegations overseas, nor do they have large inter-company business conferences, nor do they negotiate very large takeovers.
The authors show lack of knowledge of ‘Employment law when they discuss instant dismissals for various leadership failures. There is no such thing as instant dismissal in employment law, unless the business owner wishes to pay something like £16,000 at a Tribunal ( I speak from bitter experience here) One leadership lesson which deals with ‘Business intelligence’ mentions snapping up an employee from another company because that employee wishes to spill the beans on his present company’s business practices and its IT secrets… Not to be touched with the proverbial bargepole would be most businessmen’s opinion.
Midway through the book I started to half ignore the leadership lessons and just concentrated on having a good read about the operational side of ‘Special Forces ops’ which I completely enjoyed, and then drawing my own leadership lessons as I read on. It was interesting to read of operation failures and how to learn from that, the other aspect is the ‘breakdown’ of one of our authors (PTSD) , though it brings out no lesson for that aspect, I think his honesty with the reader and with himself is a real good lesson in itself. My personal reading of individuals that have faced and overcome great hardship has always been a keen interest of mine, there is plenty of that in this book.
There are a few Gems in the book.
(A) ‘Dead wood’ “Anyone here with no minerals in his makeup has got to go!”
(B) ‘ Never waste a moment of failure’ “Examine it, draw on it, utilize it, and drain it of its very worth”
(C) ‘If you give a man a ‘ticking off’ and he nods in agreement, success! If he wants to stab you in the back, Failure!
I give the book 3.5 stars and comment that it would have been useful for the four men, Anthony, Ollie, Jason and Colin to have done perhaps a little more business and employment law research before going to print. They have indeed produced something really worth reading, but whatever they stress on the civilian leadership aspect, then the reader needs to draw his own conclusions.