I get emails from guys in militias and Survival groups (NPT’s) all the time who are considered leaders (either by self appointment, election, or being the one who started it), but don’t have the first clue about being a leader. They are given a rank (If a militia, Colonel seems popular), and are expected to make decisions for their unit. They have no background or even a realistic understanding of what is required of them, and the seriousness of what they are supposed to be and might have to do.
The reason I posted this essay is simple. It’s not about you, it’s about them. It doesn’t matter if you are new at it (everyone is new at one point). It doesn’t matter if you have personal issues (who doesn’t). It doesn’t matter if you have no background in leadership (if you don’t, there are plenty of examples to emulate, and there are avenues of training available to you, if you can’t do that, step down). All that matters is that you are in charge, have your groups best interest at heart, and have a “clue” as to how it can “get done”.
Are you in the military? No. Are you in a position to make decisions that could get people killed? Yes. Are you in a position to motivate, challenge, and build confidence in others? Most assuredly. This hasn’t been posted to make you feel like you’re a high speed military leader. It was posted to bring you to a “reality” moment, and give you some thoughts to ponder concerning your position, responsibility, and the reality of how you appear to others, as opposed to how it looks to you.
H/T to Carrying The Gun for bringing this essay to the blogosphere
One of the hardest parts about assuming a leadership position in the military is realizing that no one is waiting for you, and really, no one cares. To you, it feels like things have been building towards that moment, and really, they have.
Training, self-development, “rowing,”: finally getting to step in front of soldiers is the end of a long process of getting there.
For them, things have been going for a long time. They’re really not that interested in how big a deal this is for you, other than wondering whether things will get better (if they’re bad) or if things will get worse (if they’re good).
On top of that, it’s likely that you, as the smart new leader, already have a plan for how you’re going to lead. Maybe the plan is to show up and assert dominance through a gut-checking speed run. Or maybe you plan on staying silent and in the background, quietly observing how things run before making any significant changes.
Likely, no matter the plan, there’s this feeling that this is the beginning, a fresh start.
For them, it’s just another day. They might be worn out, just coming off of a deployment or an NTC rotation. They might have been sucking on red cycle, doing laborious details for months. Or they might be relatively fresh, having just come off of leave.
Either way, it’s not a brand new start. There’s a vibe that courses through the unit that is informed by the recent and not-so-recent past, significant events, personalities, ass-chewings, and loads of other inputs that you are likely completely unaware of.
Even knowing that, which you do because you’re a smart new leader, it will still feel like the beginning. You’ll get there and begin executing your plan.
In the combat arms, this would ideally look like a settling in period where you gauge the unit and get to know people, followed by a train up period where you slowly get them where you want them to be, and then the unit “peaks” just at the same time as you get on the plane for a combat deployment. You go on the deployment, win the war, and then come back home, go on leave, and transition out. Very neat, very perfect.
As it happens, the universe is conspiring against you, and something will invariably get in the way of the grand plan. It could be your commander, a subordinate, a family member, a death, a suicide, infidelity, a no-notice deployment – the lists goes on.
The point is, you have to be ready to be the man on day one. The hardest decision you make during your time as leader might be in the first month, or week, or day. It can be terribly infuriating to have something interfere with the plan – YOUR plan.
But without question, something will absolutely get in the way of the things you want to do and accomplish. It’s just a matter of when. And like I said, there is a pulse that runs through the unit that has been there long before you and it continues to beat, even as you sit in the commander’s chair plotting the grand scheme. The only variable is when the big event will happen. Will the decisive point be right where you want it, when your feet are firmly planted and you fully understand what you’re dealing with. Or will it be when you first arrive and have no idea what the hell is going on, knocking you off of your feet?
You don’t really get much of a say. But you have a responsibility to be ready and own it, whatever it is and whenever it may come.
American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE