Book review: Royal Navy Way of Leadership

Emma De Vita reviews the new book by Andrew St George

Royal Navy Way of Leadership
Royal Navy Way of Leadership

The appropriately named author Andrew St George spent three years with the Royal Navy to uncover its leadership culture. He discovered that navy commanders from Lord Nelson onward have known that to succeed you must have clarity of intent, a strategy, resources, a contingency plan and an emotional investment.

Leaders must also possess six core values: commitment (to each other and the task in hand), moral courage, self-discipline, respect for others, integrity and loyalty. These values are ineffective, however, without 12 core leadership qualities (although not all are needed in every situation). As St George writes: "They do not come naturally to everyone, but all great leaders have these in some measure, or understand that they need to be demonstrated at the appropriate time."

The 12 qualities include the usual suspects - trust, vision and confidence - but also less obvious ones, such as cheerfulness. "No one follows a pessimist, and a sense of humour is part of the Royal Navy ethos," writes St George. It's essential to be cheerful in times of crisis - and charity managers should take note of this as they navigate today's stormy economic waters.

Emma De Vita is books editor of Management Today

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