Former Delta Force officer says the elite military unit taught him there's a time and place for arrogance


dalton fury

"60 Minutes"/CBS News

The former Delta Force commander with the pseudonym of Dalton Fury appeared on "60 Minutes" wearing prosthetics and colored contact lenses in 2008. Fury led a unit in the 2001 Delta Force mission intended to kill Osama bin Laden in the wake of 9/11.


Over more than 20 years in the US Army as a Ranger and then a Delta Force operator, Dalton Fury learned that you need to "play well with others, but remain the alpha," if you want to be an effective leader.

Fury is the pseudonym he uses for both his nonfiction and fiction writing, since his time in the highly secretive Delta Force has required him to conceal his true identity.

In an emailed list of leadership lessons sent to Business Insider, Fury explained that his time as a Delta Force commander taught him that, "arrogance, in measured amounts and used prudently, actually benefits an organization."

Fury isn't suggesting that leaders should behave recklessly to appease their own egos - that's how people die on the battlefield and how companies go under. He's saying that, whether you're in an elite military group or a startup, leaders shoulder the burden of having to constantly inspire confidence in their subordinates, and that sometimes requires a little flash.


"You are a commando, the guy that everyone in the room is looking to go against the grain, to challenge the conventional wisdom, to say something with passion, something based on empirical evidence and that follows logical thought that even the stuffiest senior leader in the room can't argue with," he said.

By "arrogance," then, Fury is saying that leaders establish the alpha presence he described by occasionally exerting an aggressive level of confidence that a subordinate would be reprimanded for.

The caveat, he said, is that for this posturing to work, it needs to be backed by results that prove that the self-assuredness is warranted.

"Most leadership books and theorists tell you that to get ahead you have to play well with others. Don't go against the grain. Be a team player," Fury said. "This is sound advice - unless you happen to be the guy or organization that everyone aspires to be."

delta force

"60 Minutes"/CBS

Delta Force operatives disguised as Afghan civilians, their faces censored to conceal their identities.


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