Leadership Realities

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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.

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H/T to Carrying The Gun for bringing this essay to the blogosphere

Leadership: Be Ready to Be the Man on Day One

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.

For you.

Training, self-development, “rowing,”: finally getting to step in front of soldiers is the end of a long process of getting there.

For you.

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 you.

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.

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JCD

American by BIRTH, Infidel by CHOICE

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7 thoughts on “Leadership Realities

  1. Pingback: Two From MDT | Western Rifle Shooters Association

  2. To begin to be a leader, and continue, and to be a successful leader, you must have integrity. Without it, you will never be one.

  3. Also ppl need to understand when you decide to take on the “leader” roll that if someone gets hurt in training, or even killed you are wide open for liability. Its on you with all eyes and inquiries being placed on your shoulders. Not just possible criminally but civil action as well.. Think LONG and hard about who you associate yourself with and WHY. Think about what you’re really getting into and ask questions. This goes BOTH ways for ppl looking to be part of something and ppl looking to be leaders with ppl under them..

  4. Right after I was promoted to Colonel, I was assigned to command of an engineering unit. This was my first “real” command. The first few days on the job I had this nagging feeling that at any moment the real Colonel was going to come back and throw me out of his office. Then some problems came up that I had to deal with, and I realized no one was going to save me from having to deal with them. I WAS the real colonel. Fortunately I had good people, and learned quickly. But it was important to let them know I was looking out for their best interests, and was going to insist that they do their jobs promptly and professionally. It turned out to be the best assignment I had in my whole career.

  5. Looking back at history, most of the local Militia leadership was elected. Reason for this was because the locals knew the men within their communities and they would choose the ones with high moral standards, knowledge, and wisdom. This way they would be assured that their commanders would not turn on the people. The history of the Militias is very interesting. I will post some more information on the Militias later.

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