Lessons in Leadership from Alan Chambers MBE

On the first Wednesday evening of the term, sports staff, captains, co-captains and leaders attended an inspirational and memorable talk about leadership by Royal Marine Commando and polar adventurer, Alan Chambers MBE. 

A very early lesson about leadership that Alan talked about was from his time in the marines when he learned about the need to lead without using fear. Under tense circumstances, Alan was tasked with the disposal of a bomb. To complete the task successfully, he felt he had to disobey the orders of his colonel. He did what he felt was right, which was to unselfishly look after the young men he had to lead; he did so without fear and did not lose any men.

His colonel, however, did not recognise Alan’s decision, and punished him with a demotion to the lowest rank, from where he had to start his career again. Although the experience was initially a setback in his military career, it was a turning point in his understanding of effective leadership.  

After the marines, Alan embarked on an incredible career of polar exploration, which brought with it completely new demands on leadership. He talked about leading from the back instead of from the front, and letting the team work out the day-to-day problems, such as navigation, allowing the leader time to think about the bigger picture. His strategy has resulted in countless successful trips in dangerous conditions.

Alan is truly an inspiring man who shed light on how to take on the responsibilities of leadership for teachers and pupils alike, on and off the sports fields at school and beyond. 

D Grewcock