SAS Leadership


From my notes from a training day by Floyd Woodrow.

Author of Elite Leadership and The Warrior the Strategist and You

These notes are from a recent training day I was privileged to attend with Floyd. He was excellent, as you’d expect from a former SAS Major. I recommend both his books and that you follow him on Twitter @floydwoodrow (Tell him I sent you!) 


Being Elite = the best you can be.

Leadership is two way – 1) Yourself 2) Others

You want to lead? What are you going to do differently? In terms of how you Think/ Act/ Speak? So you don’t just stay the same.

QUESTION: What do you want to be – when you grow up? You are still growing aren’t you? What’s stopping you doing it? Why give up on the bigger dream?

How good do you want to be?

Sun Tzu –

‘Leadership is a matter of intelligence, trustworthiness, humaneness, courage and discipline…When one has five virtues together, each appropriate to its function, then one can be a leader.’

Nobody has all those 5 virtues at day one, but we can all learn.

Doing what you have to do, is what gives you an edge.

Exercise: What are the Characteristics of a BAD leader? (Make a list)

How does it makes you feel to be in their presence?

What’s the result of that? (We form cliques, leave, or work against it)

What are the characteristics of a GOOD leader? (Make another list)

How does it feel in their presence? Notice that word, FEEL. This is ALL to do with EMOTION. Leadership is connecting through emotion.

All leaders have a compass. You need to discern..

  • SOUTH – Strategy
  • EAST – Ethos
  • WEST – Warrior

 What’s your Super North Star? Your purpose. What’s going to draw you forward? When you find this, connect emotionally to it, others want to partner or offer help. If you get started. Get disciplined. Be patient – you make it become real IN HERE so it can become real OUT THERE.

Leadership requires dedication, sacrifice, plans, being out – when everyone else is in. We all have about 650,000 hours. Time is never to be wasted.

Team is a force multiplier.

Select people based on their attitude and potential.

Without PASSION nothing happens. I can see passion, I can feel it.

“People think the SAS is about coming through doors and windows, actually it’s about peace keeping.”

Are you thinking big? As long as you’re thinking anyway – THINK BIG! (Not in competition with anyone else, big for you).

Get going on something that scares you – because that focuses you.

As well as your compass – you need a MAP. Draw your MAP – then you can see where you are and where you are going for.

What Strategy do I need to get there? What does a great strategist do?

Purpose leads to Planning, Thinking moves ahead. Understanding what’s going on. Who do I need? What do I need? Facts. Be realistic. List the facts. Get all the detail. Communicate the plan really well. With honesty. Break the steps down. Have contingency plans in place. To minimize the mistakes.

LISTENING to others doesn’t mean I abdicate, it means I am ego free.

Now this is not about consensus – leaders make a decision. That’s what makes you a leader. I am not perfect. Rarely will you go against the team, but there are times when I trust myself.


This involves CONNECTING. You can’t get that level of success and check that it’s the right plan. Some people are too much a strategist. Need to be more a warrior. This isn’t war games.

 SIX STRATEGY QUESTIONS (don’t fall for over complicated planning processes!)

Why do you exist?

Where are you going?

How will you conduct yourself?

What will you do?

How will you measure your success?

What improvements or changes will you make?

I’ve got some more notes I may put on soon, in the meantime if this has whet your appetite, get the books they are HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!