"Inspiring, funny and above all practical about what gets people committed."
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Colonel Tim Collins attracted attention on both sides of the Atlantic for his rousing speech to the troops before going into battle in Iraq. His autobiography, Rules of Engagement, subsequently went straight into the bestseller lists.
Tim was commissioned into the Army and joined the 2nd Battalion, Royal Irish Rangers in Berlin. 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.
Once in Iraq, Tim soon realised he faced similar problems to Sir Gerald Templer when he was sent to defeat the Malayan Uprising in the 1950s. Saddam Hussein had ensured the country would be virtually unmanageable if he was removed from power and the British forces had entered without appropriate plans to back up their initial victory. Nature abhors a vacuum and the dissolution of the Iraqi National Guard, police force and utilities meant that an insurgency rapidly formed to fill the gap.
Tim is a naturally inspiring speaker, combining extensive experience of active service with broad knowledge of military and political history. An authority on teamwork, leadership and motivation, his speeches show a clear parallel between military problem solving and the challenges faced by leaders in any walk of life.
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.
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Lessons of leadership
Leading in unchartered territory
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JLA: In practical terms, what can a sales manager learn from you?
TC: How to maintain focus when things are not perfect. Management in adversity was a path I had to walk. Through careful study of those before me, I was able to lead my battlegroup in the face of bitter adversity. Together we succeeded in achieving and exceeding the goals set for us.
JLA: What are the parallels between business and the military?
TC: In both, leadership is the key. It is about engendering belonging, commitment and purpose. Above all, leadership is about communicating the goals, not the methods, in the same way salesmanship is about promoting the benefits of a product and not the features.