Warrior Leadership

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Claudio Chiste

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About Warrior Leadership

Leadership, simply put, is about leading people. In most organisations this typically tends to manifest itself as the leader-follower model. There is a well-known saying which I used to hear leaders of men say, “either you follow, or you get out the way.”

In a military organisation, the general is the most senior leader. Legendary military strategist, Sun Tzu, believed there were no bad soldiers, only bad generals. After a battle, if the performance was not to his satisfaction, he would reportedly have his generals executed, not his soldiers.

In the Art of War, Sun Tzu backs this up by stating, “When the general is weak and without authority; when his orders are not clear and distinct… the result is utter disorganisation.”

David Marquet, Commander of the nuclear submarine Santa Fe, decided to reject this leader-follower model, and to implement his own “leader-leader” approach among his submarine crew. He contends that leaders should be at every level of an organization and striving to change the mindset of sailors trained in the leader-follower style throughout their naval education. This boils down to taking ownership. “I don’t know of a finer model of this kind of empowering leadership than Captain Marquet.” Stephen Covey, author of the 7 Habits of Highly Effective people

When leaders take ownership, taking personal responsibility for failures, subordinates see this being emulated throughout the chain of command. When leaders drive their teams to achieve a higher standard of performance, it’s not what you preach, it’s what people see you doing and also tolerating. When setting expectations, if substandard performance is acceptable without anyone being held accountable – the poor performance becomes the new standard. Essentially engendering a culture of trying to fix problems, rather than trying to figure out who to blame.

In the words of Nelson Mandela “lead from the back – let others believe they are in front”.

The first step before implementing this leadership model is to know thyself, implementing “personal leadership” within their own lives. Knowing yourself, in terms of what your strengths and limitations are, what stimulates you, what your boundaries are and what drives you ensure that you can live a congruent life, expressed as authentic leadership. Mastery of self (personal leadership) begins before of all else.

Personal leadership

Authentic leadership requires one to take total responsibility to discover one’s own destiny. The starting point of which is to know what your personal values are, having yourself validate these – without seeking outside validation. Your values form the foundation of your behaviour.

“I found it (the WTC leadership course) very inspiring and it helped me revise a few aspects in my life in order to grow.” Leading Seaman Christine Malan.

About Claudio

Claudio’s intrinsic values have influenced his belief in making a difference for the common good, by helping others to adopt a mindset of resilience, and engendering a culture which embraces leadership, as he believes everyone can be a leader. Claudio is a firm believer that nothing is instant, only instant coffee, results take time. The important thing is to progress, creating non-intimidating micro-goals on a daily basis.

In his own life he has overcome a series of limiting beliefs. One of many examples of a Big Hairy Audacious Goal (BHAG) which he stared down, practicing ‘personal leadership’ using grit (mental toughness) was whilst he was a young leader in the military. Regarding himself as an average swimmer with an average build, he decided to sign up for the elite Navy Divers (Combat Diver) to overcome this limiting belief of himself. The Navy Diver selection, renowned as being one of the toughest and most demanding training in the military, where one is pushed to one’s limits both physically and mentally. After a gruelling four day selection (informally regarded as the equivalent Hell Week), Claudio was one of only three who passed this acid test, from a total of 90 who had undergone this selection. He proved to himself what he already knew deep down… he could do it. The key is knowing what you want and taking consistent daily action. If you improve only 1% per day, after a year that would be 365% improvement (without even taking the compounding effect into account!). Leadership is a concept which Claudio embraced from the start of his career, at the age of 24 he was placed in charge of 44 men.

Claudio is inspired by seeing people overcome their limiting beliefs. By staring down your own internal monsters, setting BHAG, you break the chains holding you back to step into the version of who you want to be.

His varied background allows him to have a multi-angled approach, with a background as a leader whilst a combat officer in the South African Navy (9 years), and as a specialist banker in London (10 years) with Investec Bank, during which time he was in charge of an international award-wining business association focused on promoting both business and the next generation, called Shipping Professional Network London (www.spnl.co.uk) serving as chairman for 8 years. During this period he received the following leadership awards:
• Business Leader of the Year from the South African Chamber of Commerce (2012)
• Best Shipping Network in World Award whilst Chairman of SPNL (2016)
• Highest Contribution Award whilst England Chairman of South African Legion of Military Veterans (2017)
• New Leader of Tomorrow Award from Crans Montana Forum, Switzerland (2018)
In addition to coaching, he is a martial arts instructor where he has his own dojo/club in Cape Town, teaching Krav Maga.

His academic qualifications include:-
• PhD in Leadership from University KwaZulu-Natal (2020-2023(estimated))
• Masters from Cass Business School, University of London (2005-2007)
• B. Comm (Hons) from the University of Cape Town (2001)
• Bachelors in Mathematics & Nautical Science from Stellenbosch University (1996-1999)

He currently serves on the CoMenSA (Coaches & Mentors of South Africa) Executive Committee (Exco) Western Cape Chapter.





When, while the lovely valley teems with vapour around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable.



When, while the lovely valley teems with vapour around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable.



When, while the lovely valley teems with vapour around me, and the meridian sun strikes the upper surface of the impenetrable.


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