Powerful Leadership Lessons From A Commando You Need To Know

The Commando Way by Bram Connolly deserved a post of its own. This book is packed with lessons from a top Australian special forces commander that are applicable to any context. The most interesting thing about Bram is the fact that he is so much more than a commando: he is an author, has his own podcast show, is a motivator and has genuine leadership experience to share.

If you don’t have time to read or listen to the book then check out his podcast “WarriorU” where you can listen to bite sized content from the book.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Work ethic

  • Don’t take the easy option; always strive for the best & operate as close to 100% as possible
  • “Good habits take time and effort to develop, but bad habits seem to creep up on us and take over our lives.”
  • Sleep is critical to ensure you are not taking short cuts and becoming lazy
  • You are going to come up against people who do not share the same work ethic as you but that doesn’t mean you should let your high standards slip

Use fear to your advantage

  • Understand when fear impacts your performance and unpack it to identify strategies to deal with it (remember: think like Jacinda!)
  • Keep your cool and maintain a high professional standard
  • “Exposure to an intimidating environment will give you the confidence you need to operate there.”

Building high performing teams

  • Mateship is not the same as friendship; mateship will arise from shared hardship and a collective sense of purpose and is crucial to a high performing team
  • Do you know your colleague’s family member or flat mates name? Do you know the name of their pet? If you don’t, find out!
  • “Mateship increases your ability to cope with stressors that might otherwise be overwhelming. It’s a force multiplier for your resilience.”

Preparation, adaptability & resilience

  • Don’t be afraid to drop your old tools if they no longer serve you in your new environment
  • “The equipment snipers use is an extension of their professionalism, but it’s their knowledge that makes them a sniper. They could do the job with less than optimal gear.”
  • When you find yourself in a really uncomfortable or difficult situation think about a worse situation you were able to overcome: this is your new frame of reference
  • When your physical toughness runs out, you have to rely on your mental resilience to work to a high standard in an unfamiliar environment.


  • Display humility, listen to others and give credit to your team where it’s due
  • If you make a poor decision own up to it
  • Own up to what you say and how you say it
  • The secret to being a skilled communicator is actually to become a skilled storyteller.
  • The high-performing leader provides the road map to the team, identifying obstacles and illuminating upcoming opportunities.


  • A manager will focus on the work and the business outcomes; a leader knows it is all about the people
  • A great leader has influence, trusts their team, makes the best decisions for their team and knows they need to improve themselves over time
  • The two best personal traits for leaders to have are optimism and a tireless work ethic.

I particularly love this quote towards the end of the book where Connolly says:

You wear high heels and expensive clothes that project your status. These are versions of armour: they protect you from the opinions of others, and shield you from your own self-doubt.

He continues to make the point that you can’t rely on your exterior armour alone, we all need many different shields to get through our days. Every now and then we need to be comfortable enough to lay down those shields and share the genuine sides to ourselves. This is humility.

What shields and armour do you wear?

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  3. […] I stumbled across this book and thought it was one of the best leadership books I’ve read. My favourite leadership lessons are from Shackleton, but now it might be Bram Connolly! This isn’t your typical ‘military person teaches you life lessons’ book – it is relatable and applicable for people of all walks of life. You’ll find my key takeaways in Leadership lessons from a Commando […]

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