Podcast Episode 3: Views On Leadership – Commandant Sandhurst -Interview with General Paul Nanson CBE

Major General Paul Nanson CBE is a British Army officer who serves as Commandant of the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS) and General Officer Commanding (GOC) Recruiting and Initial Training Command.

Paul was commissioned into the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers (RRF) in January 1986. He became Commanding Officer (CO) of the 1st Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in 2006 and was deployed to Iraq. He went on to be Chief of Staff for 1st (UK) Armoured Division in Germany in 2008, Commander of the 7th Armoured Brigade in March 2011 and Director (Army) at the Joint Services Command and Staff College in April 2014. He was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for distinguished services in Afghanistan in 2015.

Paul is a talented and deep thinking officer who I met on his Coaching Programme at Henley Business school.

Paul has made the art and practice of leadership his profession and calling.

When I asked Paul what “Leadership” means he focussed on the Fundamentals.

3 things he believes strongly make good leaders:

  1. Develop and forge strong teams to work together
  2. Problem Solving – learn how to tackle complex decisions and empower those you lead
  3. Serve to Lead – lead by example and put your people before yourself.

Leaders take “Extreme Ownership” of what happens. Too often in society and Politics people in leadership positions rarely take accountability for the impact of their decisions or poor behaviour.

Paul Spoke of the crucial military philosophy of “Mission Command”. Also to understand the key issues for your leader and that he can clearly encapsulate: “Commander’s Intent”. Disciplined initiative is required by leaders to exploit fleeting opportunities.

Stress the importance of delegation and empowerment so that decision-making is given to the leader at the point where the information is. Too often in business it is given to the person with the most senior role – who doesn’t necessarily know what is going on.

It is the responsibility of Leader to retain ultimate accountability – even if you give authority to others to act. He spoke of Good leaders vs Selfish individuals.

Special qualities of British Army Officers – these are even more highly relevant to Business Employers today than ever before. Especially Reserve officers. These qualities are: Leadership development, decision making, problem solving, generating high performance teams & leading teams.

We both Discussed the Executive Coaching skills of Army officers. I know that Paul is a experienced and high calibre executive coach himself and feels that these skills are crucial for army officers to develop and employ with all those the lead and influence

Army leadership is very different from the traditional stereotypes people criticise. Less tell – more encouraging of greater self-awareness, to recognise blind spots, seek 360 Feedback, have coaches. In a recent survey of soldiers – they want more coaching & mentoring from their NCOs and Officers.

Tips – remember the basics – be yourself, never stop learning – it’s a lifetime journey