Guest Post – The Lone Wolf: Ideal Special Forces Soldier?

3402787Here’s a great guest post from Phil Lee about the recruitment process within Elite Special Forces and it examines the relationship between the importance of individual brilliance and teamwork.

Phil Lee is the CEO and Found of KUTA and he is a highly commended human resource Consultant, Coach and Training professional, with an extensive track record of applying practical, workable development solutions, across a variety of industry sectors, engaging with audiences from junior staff to management at board-room level.


The Lone Wolf – ideal Special Forces Soldier?

lone wolfThe Lone Wolf, is the dog that walks outside of the pack, hunts alone, travels through the forest alone and eats alone, it lives alone.   The pack is not important to the Lone Wolf.

Those coping alone skills are essential for a Special Forces operative, who may find himself alone and in a hostile environment, so are those traits the most important ones that Special Forces recruiters look for when picking their next Special Forces soldier?

In the United Kingdom, soldiers chosen to represent the cream of the British Army head to Wales for put themselves through arguably the hardest special forces assessment in the world, appearing to push their bodies beyond their physical limits, stretching their mental capability to almost snapping and having every aspect of their inter and intra personal skills scrutinised whilst under duress, stress and severe discomfort.

Those individuals who take part in the special forces assessment are not average team players. Soldiers taking part in “Selection” (as it is known) are deemed as being exceptional individuals within their military unit and as such must volunteer to leave their unit to join Special Forces. No one in the British Special Forces has been ordered to attend.

The Special Forces soldier may appear to be a Lone Wolf who deems himself capable of operating as a single unit, solo, on their own. Outside of the pack.

The selection of special forces troops process looks as though it does not take into account their team working skills or attitude to others, the tasks and challenges that they face are mostly self-supported endurance based activities, there is no assistance from others and those taking on the challenges need to focus on their own performance, to give 100% and remain totally focussed on delivery of their all.   Those who don’t will usually fail and are returned to their former military unit.

Paying attention to teamwork traits may appear to be missing from selection and assessment and yet teamwork ability or potential is at the heart of the recruitment process.

Almost all Special Forces operatives work in small but very well drilled teams, often within a larger organisation and as such soldiers unable or unwilling to fit into a team are of no use to a special forces unit, their attitude towards others within their team must be that of delivering their part unquestionably, each soldier in the team is valued by each other, each has an unshakeable belief that their colleagues will deliver their part. Beliefs that are essential for any team to hit above its weight, to deliver higher than expected results, to maximise its delivery potential. Especially when their very lives or those of others are at stake.

The directing staff (or the selectors) look for individuals who will fit into teams with minimal risk.  Lone Wolfs, the solo individual, the guy who wants to be on his own is of little use to a Special Forces unit because of the importance of the ability to operate and deliver within a team.

SASTeamwork and Special Forces
Teamwork is one of the key reasons Special Forces teams are so successful, having a shared vision, knowing where they are going, what they will be doing, how they will do it and what if’s is and the mission or the task drilled over and over repeatedly until their operation or task appears that it will be slick, with minimal risk and a high probability of success.

Repeated drills, going through the mission often helps in creating and embedding deeply held beliefs as do an organisations stated values and recognised culture of success.

“On my honour, I will commit to never leave a fallen comrade to be made captive by the enemy” This statement is something chanted by US Special Forces. It is chanted to ensure that even in the highest state of anxiety in conflict, their soldiers know they will always be rescued, they back it up with action and historical cases that prove their chant is a truth.

Beliefs that inspire and instil confidence are proven to work.

What would be your organisational chants?

And do you recruit lone wolfs and are they the right fit for the role?