Nelson ‘s Leadership LegacyGraeme Cooper
‘Band of Brothers’
It is worth noting that during the Napoleonic wars Britons were more fearful of Napoleon than they were of Hitler in 1939.
At the Battle of Trafalgar on the 21st October 1805 arguably Britain’s greatest leader, Lord Horatio Nelson was carried mortally wounded from his quarterdeck in the arms of Sergeant Secker. The British lost none of their momentum because Nelson’s ships’ Captains and their crews knew exactly what to do and how to do it.
Nelson had explained the battle plan to all his Admirals and Captains so in the mayhem of what was to come there was a clear understanding of what had to be achieved, and room for initiative. It was the phrase ‘Band of Brothers’, from Shakespeare’s ‘Henry V’ which Nelson first used when he led his Divisions to victory at the Battle of the Nile.
The innovation of discussion and briefings was Nelson’s alone and perhaps was his greatest legacy. His officers were all talented and resolute, in particular his Vice Admiral Collingwood, and it was they who carried the plan through to overwhelming victory at Trafalgar, not Nelson.
When Nelson’s now famous signal ‘England expects every man to do his duty’ was being hoisted Collingwood remarked ‘I don’t know why Nelson is signalling. We all know what to do’. He said this not because he took exception to the message itself but because knowing the plan he was surprised to see what he thought were going to be instructions.
Q: Does your organisation feel like a collection of silos rather than a closely meshed ‘Band of Brothers’?
Q: Does all your ‘Band’ know what to do and are they empowered?