“If you are ferocious in battle, remember to be magnanimous in victory” Colonel (Retd) Tim Collins OBE delivered the now infamous speech to his troops of the 1st Royal Irish Battle Group on the eve of battle in Iraq, March 2003. Such was the notoriety of this particular address it is believed that a copy of the speech hung in the Oval Office of the White House. From the moment Tim Collins’ speech in Iraq was made public, Collins became an inspiration to world leaders and infantrymen alike.
Tim was commissioned into the British Army and joined the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rangers in Berlin. He took command of the 1st Royal Irish in the aftermath of the Sierra Leone hostage crisis. After completing several tours including Northern Ireland and the Falklands, he became aide to the UN Chief of Staff in Cyprus. Promoted to Lieutenant Colonel, Tim took on the role of Project Director for the Peace Support Training Centre in Sarajevo, before returning to HQ Land Command with responsibility for training. Tim Collins’ book, Rules of Engagement, was published in 2005.
Tim’s philosophy can be summed up in a handful of rules. Know what your objectives are and have a plan; pick the right team; make sure everyone has a role and that it has been communicated clearly to them; understand your responsibilities as leader but learn to trust your team. Tim has fantastic stories & experience. He served 3 tours with the SAS and UK Special Forces. Now Tim is a Chairman as a Business Leader providing subject matter experts around the world. He’s more inspired by US General than UK Generals.
For Tim the best of inspirational UK leaders were his two COs of the Special Air Service (SAS). The first was General Cedric Delves – “a man of few words, deep intellect and a great leader who we emulated”. Also General Rupert Pritchard who he said was “a man with an unfailing moral compass to stand up to politicians and who said no with courage”. Another inspiring leader was General John Allen ISAF Comd. “General John was a gentleman and fine leader – we so wanted to please him”. When I asked about his mistakes he was reflective. He remembered the bullies & psychopaths he worked with. A lesson for Tim was failing to see failure, or inability in others soon enough. He recalled his mistake was not stepping in early enough to confront and stop mistakes.
In business his motto was “don’t be overly trusting or get taken advantage of. Don’t follow false prophets who promise work that never materialises or who use you!” Tim’s Top Tips – know what needs to be done. Refine and clarify Purpose and Structure. Tell others, then build organisation around that clear purpose. Get the best talent you can afford behind your purpose. Spirit of ownership. Communications is vital to flow both ways. Let them get on with it. He ended with some hilarious tips on coping with psychopaths.