5 Leadership Lessons from the British Army – Exercise Executive Leader Training

Posted 9th January 2018
By Focus7

Two of the Focus7 team, Jen Denman and Beth Alexander, braved the bracing winter weather to take part in Exercise Executive Leader – a training course designed to impart leadership lessons as taught in the British Army.

Want to know if your organisation really is run like a military operation? Here are 5 key insights our team took away from the day:


1. Observation before action

Albert Einstein reportedly said: “If I had only one hour to save the world, I would spend 55 minutes defining the problem, and only five minutes finding the solution.”

The British Army reinforces the importance of fully assessing the situation before you act; a lesson which, when applied in business, will save you time and money. As a leader, it’s down to you to take stock of what’s in front of you, and plan to overcome it. Resist the temptation to launch straight into a solution: spend time planning, and you and your team will reap the rewards with less complication.


2. Set high standards

The Commanding Officer running the training shared these important, but often forgotten, words: “The standard you walk past is the standard you accept.”

If, as a leader, you allow your team to produce work that is below expectation, and you do nothing to address it, you are condoning that standard. Motivate, reassess, reassign responsibilities – do whatever you need to do, but don’t accept sub-par output when you know your talented team can do better.


3. Action Centred Leadership

The British Army often utilises the principles of John Adair’s Action Centred Leadership.

The model suggests that in a leadership situation, the leader manages three core responsibilities: the achievement of the task, the team as a whole, and each individual. The key is that the leader must balance all three responsibilities together – if one is ignored, the objective is likely to fail. However, these responsibilities flex in response to the situation: sometimes the wellbeing of the team becomes more important than the task, or sometimes the individual becomes less important than the team as a whole. A good leader understands how to read the situation and adapt their priorities accordingly, whilst maintaining overall balance.


4. Stay true to your values

Your personal values as a leader are just as important as the corporate values or code of conduct that you adhere to in your workplace. The British Army has list of values and standards that it deems imperative for any person, particularly leaders, to follow:

  • Courage
  • Discipline
  • Respect for others
  • Integrity
  • Loyalty
  • Selfless commitment

5. What it means to be LEADERS

The British Army leadership code is a list of key responsibilities that every leader should uphold if they wish to be successful.

ead by example
ncourage thinking
pply rewards & discipline
emand high performance
ncourage confidence in the team
ecognise individual strengths & weaknesses
trive for team goals

Consider incorporating these tried-and-tested lessons into your leadership style, and unlock the potential in yourself as a manager, and your team as an efficient, profitable squadron. 

Focus7’s strategic experts can support your business with leadership and management training, and coaching and mentoring to develop other vital business skills. Get in touch on 0146262020 or email

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