On 22nd & 23rd January 1879 3,000 Zulu warriors attacked 150 British and Colonial troops during the Anglo-Zulu wars. Bearing in mind that only days previoulsy 1300 Britsh troops had been killed at a nearby battle of Isandlwana, there was reason to be a little anxious. But after two days of almost constant fighting the Zulus retreated and sang a song of respect for their stubborn opposition.
So what might we learn from such an episode? Firstly that even when things look really bad, there is always hope. If they had given up hope they would not have prevailed. If when things are very difficult we can retain hope then there is always a chance.
Secondly, when things get very tricky, we need to have a plan. Consider the situation, look at the options and get a plan. They probably considered running, but then they would almost certainly have been overun.
Next we can make sure the leaders are keeping discipline; ensuring that everyone is doing what they need to do to implement the plan. We can also make sure everyone is busy, that our team have as little time as possible for worry. So that they are all fully employed playing their role in the plan.
A leadership presentation would also have some value. This means a talk to the team about the sitaution, the plan, the value of the team and your belief in them.
And then there is the respect for the opposition; never to underestimate them. The Zulu warriors were incredibly brave, fighting with the stabbing spear, the assegai, against rifles. They worked in pairs with a support boy carrying supplies. Superbly organised and disciplined, they had beaten a major army of the larget empire the world had ever seen. Respect.

On the anniversary of the battle of Rorke’s Drift, what could leaders learn from it?
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