James Knight MC Royal Marines Officer and St James Place Financial Advisor – Leadership Lessons from Wartime Courage
James Knight is now a Financial Advisor with St James Place. Previously he served as a Royal Marine Officer. One notable event in his time in the Forces was on attachment to the Army whist leading a 30-man platoon as a commander in Iraq with 1st Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment (1 PWRR). After one of the Warrior Armoured vehicles got stuck in a major culvert, his Platoon got pinned down for 8 hours under constant fire – surrounded by a far larger terrorist force. They had small-arms, MG & rocket fire constantly in-coming, but held their cordon.
The Military Cross (MC) award for gallantry was awarded to James in 2007 for the platoon working together and collaborating under danger and great drama with no losses. James tells an inspirational story about a Royal Marine Corporal in the Aegean Sea rescuing migrants drowning. Sadly, a number of them had already drowned & he took on the gristly job to pull out the dead bodies. That was not a task that anybody willingly takes on, but he and his team did it, without complaint, leading the way for the other more reluctant members of the ship to do more too. The Corporal was a natural leader. He repeatedly went above and beyond his duty to do things that others were not willing to do. He was quiet and modest – he gained huge respect for doing the jobs others wouldn’t do.
James himself I found to be a humble leader who learn from getting it wrong. “As a troop commander I was mistakenly trying to win the popularity of those I led. Actually I eroded my own authority and boundaries by trying to be their friend and be too popular. Instead what I should have sought is respect which is crucial. We all need boundaries”. Top Tip – “Beware over-control as a leader. Let go to the point where you start to feel uncomfortable – that’s the right amount of autonomy!”