Australia's Most Famous Soldier Wants To Show The Corporate World A Thing Or Two About Leadership

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Corporal Ben Roberts-Smith, the Victoria Cross recipient and Australia’s most recognisable soldier, is to embark on a career in business.

The Australian reports this morning he has made the decision to get into the business world after returning to Afghanistan last year for another tour, this time as a patrol leader for the SAS.

Roberts-Smith was awarded the VC for an incident in Afghanistan where his patrol was under fire. In the incident he first killed a Taliban soldier at point blank range, then drew enemy fire, allowing a grenade to be thrown that neutralised a machine gun before storming the gun position himself to kill the remaining two Taliban combatants.

He has also been awarded the Medal for Gallantry over a previous incident in which he “tore a Taliban fighter off his back like an insect, stood on his throat and shot him dead”.

In an interview with Brendan Nicholson at The Australian he shared some of what he has learned about leadership now that he’s spent time as a patrol leader. He wants to use his experience to help strengthen the “culture and adaptability” of Australian companies.

“Culture trumps strategy any day of the week, so if you haven’t got the right culture you’re never going to succeed in your strategic plan,” he said.

He also talks about how the training and experience will help in varying scenarios:

“We call it tuning in,” said Corporal Roberts-Smith.

“If you are tuned in to your environment, you learn very quickly what’s out of place and you can make judgment calls. Everything has its place and if things are not as they should be, you feel that.”

And on decision-making:

The patrol commander’s job was to plan an operation and the roles of all of the military “assets” involved and then to lead the operation, achieve the mission’s goals and get everyone home alive.

“When things go pear-shaped, you as the commander on the ground will have to start making decisions that are not necessarily easy,” he said.

He can expect the phone to be running hot.

There’s more at The Australian.

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