The Royal Navy style of leadership

In today’s world, “the battleground is one for talent… and talented people will not put up with poor leadership.” This was the stark message from Sir Trevor Soar, the Royal Navy’s former commander-in-chief of the Fleet, when he addressed businesses at the Santander Breakthrough Summit in Leeds about the importance of nurturing future leaders.

Soar urged the 150 SME leaders in the audience to “weave the thread of leadership into the fabric of your organisation” in order to retain talent. “The majority of talented people are confident in their own abilities, which means they lack fear,” he said. When coupled with the fact that they’re in demand, this means that SMEs should be in fear of losing them.

Using his own experience in the military, where the pool of potential recruits is extremely small, Soar identified a need for SMEs to follow the Navy’s example in spotting and developing future leaders – to create a leadership culture.

“Few organisations set a strategy to develop leaders, when the benefits are clear without capital investment,” he said.

“Our prime reason for recruiting an officer is leadership potential,” Soar argued. In the same way, he added, “identifying a pipeline of leadership talent is vital for growing businesses”.