Many people are drawn to the idea of creating prepper groups to better deal with disaster scenarios. As a general rule, it is a good idea to be a part of a community of likeminded people weather it’s in business or any other undertaking. People are, for the most part, social animals and staying with one’s “tribe” has many advantages.
In order for the group to be successful in whatever undertaking it is involved in, there must be certain “ingredients”. Sports teams, business ventures, military units and emergency services are all assembled with one key ingredient which holds the big picture together. This one ingredient is called leadership. Without leadership, no organization will remain cohesive for very long. This is especially important when life threatening emergencies are taking place.
This article is going to look at “Leadership” and why it will be a very good idea to implement leadership principles in your bugout or disaster survival plan. Let’s start with the definition of “leadership”.
Wikipedia defines it as “the ability of an individual or organization to lead or guide other individuals, teams, or entire organizations.
Webster’s Dictionary defines Leadership as “the office or a position of a leader, a capacity to lead or the act or instance of leading….
An article from Business News Daily dated September 21, 2017 outlines four ways to define leadership. They are: 1) Leaders better their environment, 2) They know their team and themselves well, 3) maintain positive attitude and 4) Build the next generation of leaders….But what is it?
So to recap, none of the definitions mentioned above help us define anything at all, or the importance of it.
One of the best definition of a leadership is as follows: “The art of influencing human behaviour so as to accomplish a common goal or objective.” Now before someone starts screaming bloody murder at how this sounds like “brainwashing”, let’s just take a step back. This article is designed to clearly describe what leadership is and how to use it for the benefit of all. Furthermore, we will compare it to scenarios with which everyone is very familiar…our jobs. This way preppers and prepper groups will have a very clear idea as to what needs to take place and what changes need to be implemented for the organization to run smoothly. As an added bonus, those who are currently in a position of leadership or management at their place of employment, will be able to implement the concepts and make their operation run much more smoothly. Research indicates that 75% of employees quit their jobs because they cannot get along with their managers. During a disaster scenario, people will be much more reluctant to leave a particular group because of the many aspects of security that group will provide. But there is a distinct difference between someone who wants to work for you and be with you and someone who believes that sticking around is their best bet…for now.
This applies in the work place as well. There are people who want to be there and who truly contribute to the welfare of the company and there are people who are always looking for something better. The difference between the two is motivation. In the workplace, a good leader understands that the wage will keep the employee working just hard enough to not get fired. When he ads motivation into the mix the employee will go above and beyond.
In a “grid down” emergency scenario, no one is getting paid. Loneliness, lack of skill, sense of community, strength of numbers and raw fear will be the types of factors motivating one to stay in a group. These factors however, just like a wage, will only take the group so far.
Leadership is a complex topic which cannot be covered in complete detail in an article such as this. There are however some very basic principles that will, if practiced and implemented, completely change the performance of an organization. These topics have been divided into the “ALWAYS DO” and “NEVER DO” categories. Study these points carefully. Many of them are statements that can have volumes of books written about them. Many of them can be immediately implemented not only in workplaces but also in relationships. Most of them are very simple but not easy to implement. Also, understand that these are on SOME of the qualities a leader must possess but if you can master them you will be well ahead of the game.
This means that when someone comes to you with a concern, make time for them. If you are in a middle of a task, stop what you’re doing, sit down with that man or a woman and listen to their concern. Regardless of what a great multitasker you think you are, when you refuse to give someone your undivided attention you are telling them that they and their problem are not important. This will lead to people not wanting to talk to you since you don’t care and you will miss out on very important information. As a leader, you have to have an understanding about the dynamics of your group or team. You must know where there are shortcomings and where there are excesses. This type of intimate knowledge can only be acquired if you listen and pay attention. Most importantly, your followers must understand that they will be heard when things are not working. Obviously, when the world is collapsing around you, there may not be enough time to sit and chat about one’s problems. In this case, you must decide if this issue has to wait and be dealt with in a more appropriate situation and if so you must explain this to him or her and get back to them when situation permits.
GIVE PRAISE WHERE PRAISE IS DUE
This is a very important point. As mentioned before, workers wage will only motivate him to work hard enough for him to keep his job. But when he is told that he is doing an outstanding job (and only if he’s doing an outstanding job) he will know that someone is watching and appreciating him for stepping out above and beyond. In a survival situation, when someone helps someone on the team or helps you directly, DO NOT allow that to go unacknowledged. If at all possible, praise and reward that individual in front of others.
SHOW THE FOLLOWERS HOW MUCH WHAT THEY DO MATTERS
In an insurance company for example, an employee will do their job because they need the wage. As mentioned before, they come to work and most of the time will do what is necessary to keep their jobs and not much more. If however, they became aware that their profession provides a great safety net to the public, that they provide hope to people whose houses have burned to the ground, that medical insurance will keep the customer from having to re-mortgage their home to settle a medical bill they will begin to see the bigger picture. If this point does not seem important, keep in mind that this is exactly how governments manage to send off thousands of young men to wars far from home and some of them to their deaths. Most soldiers do it because of a deep sense of serving their nation and fellow mankind. Most people have an inner need to be a part of something bigger than themselves. They have a need to belong and to serve a higher purpose. All companies that provide employment exist to fill a need. The most successful companies are the ones that solve the most problems. Train your people so that they understand this and that will motivate them to perform to a higher standard. In a disaster scenario, what matters might be the new way of life that you will build when you re-establish yourself on the “other” side of the disaster and begin building a new life where everyone involved has a new chance at a new, better start.
IMPLEMENT STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURES
There are endless benefits organizations will gain from implementing SOP’s. Safety, operational speed, ease of training and better organization are few. Imagine assigning new personnel to a position and having to show him ONLY where operating procedures for that position are located. It may be a binder with easy to understand instructions which will cover everything he or she needs to know. The only time they would come ask questions is if they don’t understand a particular set of instruction…? The problem is that SOP’s have to be written out, otherwise it’s only hearsay. Also, they have to be written out in a particular manner so that most can understand them easily. This takes a lot of work and that’s why no one wants to do it. But, when procedures are clear, followed and practiced a unit will run fast, efficient and smooth. The bigger the group the more need for SOP’s there will be. If you do get serious about your group’s operational capability start building and implementing SOP’s early. The bigger the organization the harder this will be to implement.
CONTROL YOUR EMOTIONS
If it’s a divorce, death of a loved one, hangover, bankruptcy or if you’re simply pissed off because someone cut you off in the traffic earlier, it never hurts in front of the team. Whether the leader likes it or not, the team will rely on him to get them through some tough times. This means that they will look to him for strength and positive attitude. If the leader shows fear, uncertainty, indecision, overwhelming signs of stress the follower will lose faith in the leader’s ability to get him through. Team effectiveness will suffer. In the corporate world this is just as true as anywhere else. When the supervisor comes to work cranky or mad, the subordinates will sense it immediately and become standoffish. Their stress level will rise and they will begin to make small mistakes in their work. By lunchtime they are huddling around the water cooler passing around rumors that the boss is stressed because the company is going under. Whether the rumors are true or not, once the star employee gets home, he’s dusting off his resume because he doesn’t want to work in such an “unstable” environment any longer. The flipside to this is that the employees and team members will sometimes show up with their own problems which will affect their work. It is up to the leader to spot this and do what he can to make the employee/team member feel like he has someone to count on and trust. This might be the toughest part of leadership but it is very important to understand fully. The leader must be in complete control – of him or herself- at all times.
This is the first installment of series of articles dealing with leadership. In part two we will examine the don’ts that everyone in charge of anything should know about.
Remember that if you earn your follower’s trust they will go with you to the ends of the earth. They will go because they trust you to bring them back. The points above may not be easy to implement but once you understand them, they will help you build a solid and cohesive team.
We would love to read your feedback about the above leadership points. Would you add or remove some of the points? Have you had a negative or positive leadership experience?