What the SAS can teach even the hardest of City workers

There are more parallels between the SAS and the boardroom than you might think (Source: Getty)
Matthew Ollerton and Jason Fox give examples from their life in the Special Forces
"Team away day” normally puts the fear into people. Hotel function rooms, bizarre motivational speakers and the compulsory bonding football match. But what if the experience was completely different?
As former members of the Special Forces, we’ve undertaken some of the most dangerous missions in the world. And if you’ve seen our recent Channel 4 show, you’ll know that we’ve taken our decades of experience to create the first ever opportunity for civilians to take part in SAS-style training. We’ve replaced the traditional away day with tanks, bunk beds and boots to see how good at “team work” your staff really are. Indeed, there are more parallels between the SAS and the boardroom than you might think.

“TEAMWORK”

When you reach a certain point in your career, it can be easy to forget the people around you. This is a huge mistake.
Jason “Foxy” Fox: “while leading a hostage release mission in the Middle East, my team and I had to jump out of a plane that was being shot at. As we flew through the air, we were dodging bullets. And, as soon as we landed, we were in the midst of a combat situation.
Everyone needed to do exactly what they were trained to do, while also having everybody else’s backs. As leader, I knew my team would do just that. After all, no-one can be a hero on their own.”
You may be the boss of the boardroom, but teamwork is crucial in day-to-day scenarios and you need to know that your team can work together and, most importantly, respect each other while doing so. We need to be sure we can trust our team with our lives. How much do you really trust yours?

SHOWING WEAKNESS IS OKAY

The chances are that you’re not where you are today because you let the setbacks get you down. But of course, not everyone is good at everything.
This is why it’s helpful to honestly identify what your personal strengths and weaknesses are, as well as those of your team members. By doing so, you can work even better together.
Matthew “Ollie” Ollerton: “knowing your strengths can be life-saving. If you’re not the best person to diffuse a bomb, don’t do it; send out the person who’s got the most experience. Granted, in the boardroom, this won’t be so clear. But this is often because people take hierarchy as set in stone and hold themselves – or others – back. But if we’d taken that hierarchy approach in a hostage release situation, none of us would have got out alive.”
If we put you and your team in a muddy field, with one map, a bottle of water, some obstacles and the SAS bearing down on you, you’d quickly find that hierarchy goes out the window and real skills take over. Who knew, for instance, that your junior would be the one to motivate you all under extreme pressure?

GET YOUR HANDS DIRTY

You should never ask anyone to do something you’re not prepared to do yourself. It may sound simple, but if your team knows that their colleagues – even if they are superiors – wouldn’t do the same for them, then trust quickly goes out the window and relationships break down.
Ollie: “As part of the Special Boat Service, we would travel in a large plane, throw a boat out the back of it, then parachute down to join it. Everyone is in the same situation, under the same pressures. There are no airs or graces, no rank gets less wet, or gets the shortest jump – you all just have to get on with it.”
At Break-Point, we put everyone in that same boat, and you’re all responsible for getting through the exercise we set you. You might be the big boss in the office, but if we’re going to make you crawl around in muddy water, you’re on the same level as everyone else.
Matthew “Ollie” Ollerton and Jason “Foxy” Fox are the founders of Break-Point. To have your own SAS experience, visit break-point.co.uk

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