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Survivalist Trade: Leadership

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posted on Apr, 9 2007 @ 02:42 PM
Survivalist Trade: Leadership


This thread is intended as a guide towards how to execute leadership in various capacities for both large and small groups. It is by no means comprehensive, but if you have any questions about specific situations, how to handle a theoretical, or wanted to add your own advice and thoughts on the issue, feel free to.


Leadership training and application is probably one of the few skills I've actually had a great deal of both in. Starting in 5th Grade, I began speech classes that continued all the way through my college years, and continued into Toastmasters International (an international speech club). While this might at first seem trivial, as a leader, the single most important resource one can capitalize on is the ability to communicate an idea clearly, to large numbers of people at once, reading the crowd, and adjusting your speech accordingly to match the mood.

As for actual leadership itself, I started learning command structure upon joining the Boy Scouts when I was eleven. By the time I'd hit 13, I was a patrol leader (leader of 8) till I became Troop Chaplain's Aid (spiritual leader of the troop) with no actual Chaplain (an adult position), which made me full Chaplain by default, until I then became Senior Patrol Leader (leader of the entire troop) till I left at age 18. In the process of earning my Eagle Scout, I had to organize, from idea to full completion, a public service project that took well over 200 hours to finish. In high school, I lead a 5A (now technically 6A with the reorgination of the schools) saxophone section in marching complex formations (harder than you'd think). Later, in college, I was dormitory president, and had to handle the allocation of funds, implementation of dorm rules, upgrades to facilities, as well as represent the dormitory in the University's council. And finally, in the workplace, I've served as manager for numerous tech support queues, as well as managing software testers. There are numerous other smaller scale areas, but these were the most relevant I can think of as they cover the communication, resource management, survival, spiritual, judgment, and financial areas. short, there are certainly people out there more qualified than myself to write such a guide, but I can at the very least provide the benefit of my own experince from positions of leadership in a wide variety of situations. That and so far being the only one willing to write a guide on the matter.

So, without further ado... TheLibra's Survival Guide to Leadership.

Step One: Examine Yourself

Every leader needs to be aware of their own weaknesses and shortcomings, accept them, and then work to overcome them. The absolute worst mistake a leader can ever make is to assume they know everything, can do anything, and are incapable of error. Now, granted, this is the impression you want people to believe about you, but you yourself need to be aware that no matter how good you are at any one task, there will always be someone better, and you'd best be willing to learn from your mistakes. The best time to examine yourself is before a crisis hits, not during.

The first thing I recommend, if you intend to be a leader is, as soon as possible, create the following lists:

  • What you believe ethically, in regards to business, transactions, fairness of judgment, etc.

  • What you believe morally, in regards to right and wrong.

  • What you are good at: skills, talents, abilities, etc...

  • What you are bad at: ditto.

  • Why you think you're a better leader than anyone else.

  • Your spiritual/religious beliefs, if any.

    I'd recommend keeping a journal as well. It is important to monitor your own progress in improving yourself as well as whatever project you're working to achieve. The reason these lists are important is to, as best as you can, clarify in your own mind the black, the white, and the grey. In survival-type leadership, the ability to make quick decisions is superceded only by the ability to make GOOD quick decisions. If you pause to think for too long, you run the risk of failure or being usurped by the overly eager. If you don't think on your decision for long enough, you could get everyone killed. Allow yourself as much time as possible to make a decision in crises by having thought about the situations ahead of time, before the crisis happens.

    Never, ever stop trying to improve yourself. Neither should you ever stop trying to be a better person. The day you stop trying to do either of these is the day you should hand the reigns over to someone who will, because you will constantly be bombarded with progressively more and more difficult problems. Occasionally go back and review your lists, challenge your own beliefs on those lists and see if you can still justify your position on them. If you can't, it's time to reassess what you truly believe.

    Finally, maintain a grip on reality. You are only a leader as long as people choose to follow you. The instant you have to bribe them to remain leader, you're a boss. The instant you have to force them to follow you, you're a tyrant. There will be times for using the carrot, and times for using the stick, but the moment your position depends on one or the other, you have a very short time left before a real leader comes along and replaces you.

    Step Two: Communication

    It's commonly said that the most common fear is having to give a speech in public. Jerry Seinfeld popularized this theory by pointing out that the second greatest fear is death; which means that, at a funeral, you're better off being the one in the casket than you are being the one giving the eulogy. If you have a fear of public speech, you'd be better off letting someone else lead, and acting in an advisory role instead. In a survival situation, the internet, email, phones, and the other ways of communicating anonymously and without speaking publicly are going to be largely unavailable. You not only have to be able to stand in front of the people you lead, look them in the eye, speak your mind, and be willing to accept the consequences of it, but your followers have to know it.

    Now, say you have no fear of public speech, do you have something worth communicating? Think of meetings in your job, or emails from management, or if you are in school, the times when the priniciple comes over the P.A. system to make an announcement. How many of those do you actually read or listen to? A tenth? A twentieth?

    The vast majority of people in leadership roles overuse the pulpit. They send correspondance and announcements that could just as effectively be quietly disseminated to people who took an active interest in the proceedings. When you, as a leader, assemble your people to listen to what you have to say, you'd best be damned certain it's important enough for them to drop what they are doing and listen. If it's not a matter of high importance to almost everyone assembled, then leave it for your delegates to relay. When you speak, you want their full, undivided attention. When you call an assembly of the people you lead, you want each member to at least anticipate they really need to know what you have to say. And when you are done, enough people should walk away better for it that they can convince the grumblers outside of your hearing.

    Next is timing, both as to when you deliver your speech, as well as how you deliver it. A pep talk, for instance, is best used right before a battle, or a few minutes into a hearty meal. Those are the times when people will be most receptive to cheer. A pep talk delivered as a mandatory pre-work day speech will lose effect as of day two. A pep talk delivered in the middle of work will only anger your followers at being interrupted. After thinking carefully about what you're going to say, think even more carefully as to when it will have the most impact. Try to keep your speeches as few as possible as well. You might very well have something very important to say, but if you're known for giving a speech often, people eventually stop listening, regardless of what you have to say. Remember that almost everything you need to communicate can either be done on the fly in person, or using delegates.

    Additionally, keep in mind the timing length of your speech. The absolute single best advice is speechcraft's greatest cliche: Be Sincere, Be Brief, Be Seated. People will want to hear what you have to say if you just get right to the point, believe in that point, and then leave them wanting more. A solid guideline for your speeches is 3 to 5 minutes. Any longer and they'll stop listening.

    The next thing to consider is your audience, their mood, and their state of satisfaction with your leadership.

    When the wind is against you, it's time to work with the crowd and promise sincere change: "I've heard your concerns and we will work together to address each and every one of them."

    When the wind is with you, it's time to thank the crowd and remind them why the good times are there: "Thanks to your trust in me, we've managed to overcome hunger, lack of shelter, illness, and we've even got a stockpile of food and supplies ready for the winter months ahead. For that I thank each and every one of you. We did it."

    When you have a problem to overcome, make sure your audience knows why the problem is a problem in the first place, remind them why you're striving to overcome it, and let them know they'll beat it: "As many of you know, there's a disease spreading across the land. It hasn't hit us yet, but it's only a matter of time before we have to deal with it. If we work as one on this, we can ensure each other's safety."

    When the people are close to revolt, it's time to create a monster and direct their anger towards it. This is, by far, one of the least ethical, yet most effective methods of crowd control. Machiavelli introduced the concept of The Monster, and since, it has been used to great effect by rulers around the world. The right thing to do would be to step down, and let the people choose their new ruler. However, if you absolutley must maintain leadership, you're going to have to find someone else to bear the brunt of the anger: "People, hear me! I know why you are angry, I hear your angry cries for my blood. I realize you are furious about the lack of food, that your children starve, your bellies are empty, and that you've nearly lost everything you have. You're not the only one! I am just as angry, if not more so, that my people are suffering like this. I've given everything of myself to try and guide you through the hardest of times, and then I find out that this famine is due to the betrayal of one of our own. The food we so desperately need has been sold to our enemies to pay for the gambling debts of one man, my most trusted lieutenant. Bob. And to avenge you all, he will be executed at dusk and his body thrown to the vultures!"

    Again, I'm not a fan of the "Monster" approach. My personal opinion is that betrayal is the worst form of lie, and a betrayer is the worst form of tyrant. However, the examples above give you an idea of the range of response in mood alone, and how they might also be used against you.

    Consider your verbage as well when giving a speech. Take time to find the best words. If you sound like someone who should be slinging crack rock, you won't be taken seriously except by thugs. If you use a lot of $10 words that people have to look up, you'll be dismissed as a blowhard. Use plain language, embellish only when neccessary, and keep the tone conversational whenever possible. Take time to practice the body language you use as well. Learn to project using your voice, rather than shouting.

    (continued next post)

  • posted on Apr, 9 2007 @ 02:43 PM

    Step Three: Priorities

    In a survival situation, your first priority should be to make sure everyone is present and accounted for, and out of harm's way (at least for the moment). They may be tired, cold, starving, and miserable, but if they know you got them outside the immediate danger of Situation X, and saved their lives in doing so, they will most likely accept, and probably even expect your leadership. Don't let them down.

    Familiarize yourself with Maslowe's Hierarchy of Needs (MHoN). While this is not Rote handed from on high, it is a solid guideline of your prioties for people in your care. The concept behind MHoN is that mankind's desires may be categorized into different levels, and that the level below must be satisfied before the level above may be met with any measure of efficacy. For instance, you can't really appreciate the literary beauty of Shakespeare when you haven't eaten for days, and the constant patter of rain on your head is about to drive you mad.

    So, here are the priorities to be fulfilled, in order, altered slightly for plain language and to fit the reality of a survival situation:

    1. - Physiological - Air, Food, Water, Shelter, Latrine. If you cannot guide your people to meet even these basic demands for survival, you will be replaced. Human beings are two meals away from barbarism. From the moment you become in charge, you need to be thinking about where your next meal is going to come from at the same time you're getting people out of harm's way. Once people have eaten, they'll need to put together a temporary community shelter, such as a lodge, with a firepit and smokehole in the roof. Once successfully safe, fed, watered, and sheltered, you will have their respect, and your decisions will become the default. But you cannot rest there.

    2. - Security - With the minimum standards of life met, people will want things to either remain status quo, or improve. This will require security, in every aspect of the word. People need to know that their life is not in constant danger, that they will not have to worry about where their next meal is going to come from, that their belongings will not be stolen, and that their family will be cared for. The two quickest ways to accomplish this are going to be through a ready band of guards to defend against human and animal threats, and individual housing for families. Not everyone's house will be able to be built at once. Concentrate first on families with children. Very few people can begrudge children the benefits of safety, and those who would begrudge them usually quiet down in the presence of everyone else. Make sure everyone knows they'll all get everyone's help in building the houses, but it may take time. Once all families with children are housed, start on the women's houses. In a survival situation, the social equality and the surface-level feminism will need to be discarded in favor of ensuring the survival of the species. Children are your future, women are the ones whom are capable of bearing that future. As such, men are pre-disposed towards allowing them first choice of resources after the children. This leaves your single men and widowers as the last remainder before they too are housed.

    While the houses are being built, you'll need contingents of people to scour the landscape for food, seed, herd animals, firewood, and so forth. Make use of your children. Left idle, they will wander off and get into trouble, or they'll get in the way. Give them jobs they are capable of doing that don't require a lot of skill or strength, and will tire them out over the course of a day. Firewood and stone gathering are ideal for this. Never let anyone travel alone. If possible, have them travel in threes or more, this includes your adults. This not only allows for one to run for help and one to stay behind, in the event of injury, but also psychologically will allow for better interactions between them as conversation and moods shift.

    Once people have a permanent, personal shelter, food will be known to be forthcoming, and there are plans for "taming the land" to provide food in the future, it will be time to set up a place of worship. You yourself may be an atheist, but you must recognize the need of some people for religion, especially in times like Situation X. No matter how your personal views are, there needs to be some sort of spiritual guidance in the tribe, and if you aren't going to provide it, then it will be provided for you. This could really complicate things. Try to find the most religiously educated person in the group, and if that doesn't work, try to find the most tolerant old person that you can. Unless you happen to actually have a minister, or a rabbi, or imam, or whatever in your group, it'd best to give this person a very nonspecific title. Heinlein was fond of "The Padre" as a sort of spiritual guide for a platoon in Starship Troopers, but anything conveying respect without a specific religion attached, AND is friendly to your own leadership, will do wonders for your prospects of a successful tribe.

    Note the progression of terms along the way. Once you've begun to re-domesticate your people, you have all shared the bond of mutual protection, feeding, child-rearing, and housing. You are a family. You are now a tribe in every sense of the word. Remember that, because the next level on MHoN will require this community mindset.

    3. - Community - Friendship, family, intimacy. As your tribe becomes more settled into the daily grind, the survival needs are met, and future threats have been accounted for, people are going to start falling into a social mindset. People are gregarious by nature, and love will develop, children will be born, families will grow, frienships will form, and kids will grow into adults. Fortunately, this is one of those needs that will naturally sort itself out. However, you will need to handle the question of marriages, divorces, funerary services, etc. My personal recommendation is that if you've already appointed a Padre, let them handle it. Keep business (you), seperate from family matters. However, if there is no Padre, or you are both the leader and the Padre, you'll need to be prepared to start performing these duties upon request. Eventually these things will develop into traditions.

    Unfortunately, along with the growth of good things in a community, bad things will grow as well. Rivalries will form, and enemies will develop. The lazy will covet the benefits of work without wanting to actually do the work, and theft is the inevitable result.

    4. - Justice - The tribe will need you to settle disputes, and to make decisions regarding guilt and punishment. The last thing you want in your tribe is vigilante justice, because when people are angry, or excited, or personally affected by the accused or the crime, their judgment is worse than that of beasts. Proper Justice, as well as the chance for the accused to prove their innocence, requires a calm, neutral party to act as the arbitor. As a tribal chief, you will largely be considered Judge, Jury, and Executioner unless you've otherwise set up a valid system by which a Jury can be called, etc. However, unless you have a very large group, this might not even be an option, and the most "democratic" judgment might have to be a tribunal of yourself, the padre, and someone else. A typical choice is the eldest of the tribe, but it's been my personal experience that age does not convey morality or ethics, only wisdom and experience. A good choice for the third tribunal member would be the Quartermaster or equivolent, as they would have some of the best understanding of the inner-workings of the tribal infrastructure and the best understanding of what the loss of a particular resource would mean.

    Punishment in a tribal situation is going to be very tricky, and will largely depend on your approach to how criminals should be handled. Whether you lean more towards rehabilitation or punishment, be consistant. If you punish a horse thief with 5 lashes with a whip, then the next person found guilty of stealing a herd animal should get the same. In a situation in which the survival of your tribe, and possibly the human race, depends on people not following the rules, my personal opinion is that Justice will need to be harsher than it is in a civilized society where we can simply tuck people away in a jail cell. If someone in your tribe commits a cold-blooded murder, they are not only a threat to the rest of the tribe, they are a threat to anyone else they come across. If there's only 20 of you, and to your knowledge, you're the only ones left alive, then he just murdered 5% of the human race. There's no room for the hope that he'll never murder again, and turning him loose in "banishment" is only inviting him to come back and raid and kill later. For murderers, in a Situation X environment, the only sensible option will usually be the death penalty. Others may feel different on this point.

    Theft is often the easiest crime to re-habilitate, but if punishment is your mode, then corporal punishment is going to be most effective. At lightest, lashes, at most, the loss of a finger. Again, as barbaric as it sounds, theft within a tribe desperately trying to survive must be put to a permanent stop as quickly as possible or it could mean anything from starvation to ruin later on. Crimes we'd normally associate with simply paying a fine or doing time, in a civilized wealthy society like America, have to be looked at in an entirely different light when life is on the line. If you can re-habilitate a thief instead (my preferred method), you will have added to your tribe's productivity as well as gained an ally. If he's a particularly GOOD thief, then make him a scout, and put those skills to use in the name of the law...

    Ah, yes, The Law. You won't be around forever. In fact, in Situation X, you might be dead tomorrow from a bandit raid, disease, accident, or even a coup d'etat. Even if you manage to not get killed, and live for another 40 years, there's a real good chance that one day you're going to have trouble remembering what the usual punishment is for a particular crime that happened decades ago... What was the precedent? how was is resolved to everyone's satisfaction?

    Tricky areas are going to come up. As people's families (and thus, their needs) grow, they gain property and posessions, and your tribe becomes more and more advanced to the point of being a city-state, you will need to establish a government that can pass from ruler to ruler.

    5. - Governance - While anarchy is possible in the short-run, with small numbers desperately clinging to survival, it is not a viable prospect for the future of a people. Whether or not you want a government really isn't of importance. The fact is that if you don't create one, then someone else will create one for you, and then all choice will have been removed from your hands. Thus, your next step will be to establish a Code of Laws, a consistant Judicial System, a currency for standardization of trade, a standing military to defend the city-state, and a tax base to pay the city employees with.

    When the law is writ, none can question the bias of the messenger. When everyone has to pay their fair share to keep things going, fewer will grumble. When you finally pass on, if there is a governmental system in place, you can die secure in the knowledge that they will almost certainly survive a bloodless transition in power. The importance of government is all too often unrecognized, largely due to the corruption of large governments. Try to keep this in mind, always, and remember that a leader is only leader so long as the people accept it.

    However, State governance is not the only form. By now, several Padres will have formed, probably of varying religions. In a city state there may be multiple temples, and organized religions will begin to form. Try to keep as many of them on your side as possible by favoring none, and allowing all to exist. As soon as you oppress a religion, and force people to make the choice between church and state, you'll be quite dismayed at the results of the flock. It doesn't matter that you lead them out of danger, fed them, sheltered them, helped them grow into a city state on the verge of nationhood... if you tell a believer they are not allowed their religion, they will turn on you in an instant. Tread carefully, and make sure that you stay out of each other's business. Your duty is to provide your people their physical and ethical needs. Their duty is to provide their spiritual and moral needs.

    More to come when I finish writing the next post for this thread...

    posted on Apr, 9 2007 @ 03:46 PM
    Definitely a good start!

    The hardest part that people are going to have with Situation X is that not everyone can be leaders. Everyone is going to want things done their way, but that cannot work. In larger groups there simply MUST be a rank structure. Not only does this allow people to have a sense of purpose and belonging, but it also allows the leaders to differentiate between the experienced and inexperienced.

    I completely agree with you that tasks should be divided between all members. Let someone do what they enjoy to do and the product of that work will be fruitful. This also allows for members to become really good at one task instead of average at a lot of things. This hinges upon the rank structure as well because these experienced people can take the inexperienced under their wing and teach them the skill.

    I think I would fare pretty well in Situation X not only because of my Military training but because how I was raised. We will all see how we do when the **** finally hits the fan.

    posted on Apr, 9 2007 @ 04:28 PM

    Originally posted by PrepareForTheWorst
    Definitely a good start!

    The hardest part that people are going to have with Situation X is that not everyone can be leaders. Everyone is going to want things done their way, but that cannot work.

    Thanks, mate. This is actually going to be in a future section about leader types (reluctant, willing, take-charge, etc) , and motivations (altruistic, selfish, personal, confidence, etc). And while I've found that everyone's reasons for trying to be leader are different, the vast majority don't want to deal with the hassle of leadership once they have it. To be perfectly honest, I've even had that problem myself a few times in the past, and had to turn the group over for what I hoped was best for the group.

    Sometimes it is for the best, and sometimes it really isn't. Sometimes the only thing that can keep a group going is the person who formed it in the first place, and sometimes the person who started the group couldn't put and end to it if they tried. I've experienced both types of failures before, and the most important thing you can do is learn from them so that the next time you're asked to take the wheel, you don't make the same mistake twice.

    Chances are, for the rest of your life, if you're in a group, there will be repeated times when you're asked to lead, if for only a few minutes, once. Most will decline. The ones who say yes are the only real choices, and sometimes they can be great with noble intentions, and sometimes they can be things that barely meet the legal definition of a human being. Most will be somewhere in between.

    Originally posted by PrepareForTheWorst
    I completely agree with you that tasks should be divided between all members. Let someone do what they enjoy to do and the product of that work will be fruitful. This also allows for members to become really good at one task instead of average at a lot of things. This hinges upon the rank structure as well because these experienced people can take the inexperienced under their wing and teach them the skill.

    Absolutely. This will be in another section as well, about the allocation of resources (including work), the creation of artisans to preserve the existing technology as best we can, and even pre-organizing a group as well so that chain of command, and jobs are all assigned ahead of time. Of course, no plan survives initial contact, but it at least gives everyone a heads-up about what people are good at and who will most need to be replaced in terms of their skillset and knowledge in the event of the loss of that group member. For instance, if the medic dies, with no replacement the group is in serious trouble.

    A good leader always tries to recognize the individual strengths of their group members and utilize them to their best effect. Sometimes the best way to utilize that is with ranks. The hardest part with that, though, will be asking someone who used to be a wall street executive to start taking orders from the person who used to be his gardener. Or, even worse, explaning to one of your own family why they have to report to someone they consider inferior to themselves, rather than coming directly to you. Ideally, a fair solution will be found, or at least one that leaves everyone angry at someone besides yourself. There's rarely even that much of a victory, but as long as visible progress is being made, you'll probably remain the leader. Ideology aside, people like results the most.

    (hope this reply made sense, I'm half asleep at the moment.)

    posted on Apr, 9 2007 @ 04:53 PM
    Great points indeed. I didn't mean to steal your thunder any
    I look forward to reading the rest!

    posted on Apr, 9 2007 @ 06:32 PM

    Originally posted by PrepareForTheWorst
    Great points indeed. I didn't mean to steal your thunder any
    I look forward to reading the rest!

    No thunder stolen by any means, you raise some very important issues, and the thread is better for it. Please, feel free to continue with any questions or suggestions, etc. There will almost certainly be things I'll overlook, subjects I won't touch on enough, and in some cases, someone else might have a better way of handling a situation than what I've suggested, so I welcome the input. Next post will probably be tomorrow, it's time to get back to work on the house till dinner.

    posted on Apr, 9 2007 @ 07:33 PM
    I like your points on communication. I will piggy-back on that for a bit. One of the most important part of leadership is trust. You will gain the trust of a group by:

    -Knowing what you are talking about
    -Don't BS people

    Obviously knowing what you are talking about plays a big role. Telling people exactly what is going on will get you further than anything else though.

    Take the current administration. One of the reasons people don't trust the government is because we are left in the dark most of the times. The government doesn't think we can handle the truth so they choose not to tell us much.

    When you are leading a group, tell them the situation no matter how bleak it may be. If you are out-numbered 10 to 1 tell them. Your respect level will increase ten-fold as a result.

    On occasion, ask your group members if they have any suggestions. No matter how smart a leader may be, someone 10 years younger could have a great idea...never underestimate anyone!


    Great bit on the children of a group. Let them gather simple things while the adults take care of the more complex tasks. The children will feel like they are helping out and in reality they really will be. Once they reach whatever age you deem "old enough", teach them a trade. One of the biggest problems with kids today is that they feel they don't have purpose...this will take care of that.

    posted on Apr, 10 2007 @ 01:40 PM
    Continuing on in the Guide

    Step Four: Leader Types

    People's reactions to your leadership are going to be based mainly on four things: how you became leader, your motivations, your management style, and perhaps most importantly, your results.

    The importance of how you become leader diminishes the most with positive results, but initially it can have a serious impact on the confidence of your followers. Planning in advance of Situation X will help reduce the negative effects, but only so long as you perform under pressure during a crisis. The moment you freeze, or refuse to execute your duty, someone else will likely take the reigns. This is for the best, if they don't, you probably won't survive. Most of the time, though, leadership will simply be assumed by whomever is first to come up with a plan they're willing to state.

    Preplanned - A democratic vote, or a nomination with general agreement is going to see the least stress later on. Choosing a leader based on resources (such as "it's my farm we're going to" or "I bought the _____") is generally going to lead to petty squabbles as people do not place the same value on possessions, and most people are smart enough not to think ownership equals leadership potential, even if they're too polite to state it.

    If you're planning a group to deal with Situation X in advance, the best nomination is generally going to be whomever has done the most work to get the group organized and keep it organized. The vast majority of leadership isn't "leading the charge into battle", it's making countless tedious decisions about the most inane things you can possibly imagine, day after day after day. Finding someone willing to do that on a long-term basis is generally rare.

    The single biggest advantage to a pre-planned leadership for your group in the event of Situation X is that chain of command, and the tree of communication will have already been established. Person A knows to contact B, C, and D, B knows to contact E, F, and G, etc, and Leader Z doesn't have dozens of people trying to contact them, but rather the top 3 in the tier, or some such.

    The biggest disadvantage to this is that by the time the survivors in the group re-forms after Situation X has occurred, there's every possibility that the leadership will have been killed, or that many members of the group will no longer accept the previous leadership in light of the reality of the situation. We'll deal with that in a later segment entitled "challenges to leadership".
    In a nutshell, though, be prepared for the entire chain of command to be rearranged after initial contact.

    Unplanned - If your role as a leader is unplanned, the scenario probably went something like this:

    "Well, what do we do now?"

    (cricket chirps, then finally) "Well, let's grab our gear, move to higher ground, make camp, and figure things out there."

    Unplanned leadership has the advantage of everyone being in newfound agreement in the present, rather than before the proverbial poo hit the fan. In a situation where survival and time are of the effort, most people will follow a reasonable sounding plan, unless they have a better one, or the current one scares them too much. Thus, you'll have a small morale boost to the group as long as you appear to know what you're doing.

    The downside is you might not really want to be the leader. As the saying goes, some men are born great, some rise to greatness, and some are dragged kicking and screaming.

    Regardless of how you became leader, at some point, when things calm down, you'll have to ask yourself if you want to remain leader, and if so, why.

  • Altruism - You want to lead because you feel it's for the betterment of your group, or even mankind as a whole. Idealists and Scholars are likely to be this type of leader. Having faith in doing the right thing usually produces the most solid results, because if there's one thing people love in times of duress, it is diamond-hard faith in the power of good. Otherwise, why go on?

  • Confidence - You want to lead because you just don't feel like anyone else is competant enough to get the job done right. Military, police, managers, etc are likely to fall into this category. People whom have been trained in both leadership, public rallying, and a wide variety of combat and noncombat skills are naturally going to feel inclined to take charge of people whom have no experience and fewer skills. This is neither a good nor bad type of leader, as confidence when tempered with wisdom can be a very powerful motivator, though inevitably the actions of the leader and the group will determine the value of the leadership.

  • Reluctance - They just won't let you quit leading. You've tried to step down, you've tried telling them you don't want to lead, to stop following you around, and they just won't listen. In fact, they take your willingness to give up the reigns as a sign of your good intentions. It's hard to say if this is truly due to good leadership, desperation of the people, or a lack of anyone willing to do the job. Regardless, after a while it breeds resentment on the part of the leader against their own people. Resentment can turn into contempt, contempt can turn into tyranny, and tyranny can turn into opression. If you're a reluctant leader, it's best to find a new motivation before this happens, or eventually you'll start sabotaging your own efforts just to be able to get fired.

  • Selfishness - Power trips, perks, fortune... One who would lead a group purely for personal gain is liable to one day find themselves the victim of a bloody coup during Situation X. These are also the type most likely to become leaders of bandits, as the ethics and morals of the group plummet via the leaders example.

  • Fantasy - Some people want to lead just because they've always wanted to lead, but have no abilities or skills or talents to bring to the table. This is the dangerous sort, as most of their ideas on leadership will have been garnered from movies, TV, and novels. While such sources are an excellent source of inspiration, the fact of the matter is that being a real leader is never so glamorous even at the best of times, and the vast majority of the time it is just plain dull. This leader type will not last long unless they can find some other way to rise to the challenge.

  • Fear - There are two types of fear that can force someone to remain a leader. The first type is a fear of what will happen if they are not leader; either the group will fail, or turn on the leader no longer in power to exact revenge for past abuses of power. The second type of fear is the sort that rallies people together to defend (or run) against some threat, or alternately, to seek out and destroy that threat. It needn't matter if the threat is valid or not. These are the most dangerous types of leaders. They will often exhibit cowardice when needed most, or induce a state of xenophobia into the group that eventually causes it to die off from lack of a viable gene pool.

    (sidebar note: those little round peppermints can be a leader's best currency. Try handing them out before a speech. Despite the cellophane noise, the scent of peppermint makes the mind more alert (meaning they'll pay more attention to what you say), and the taste of a sweet candy will put your audience in a better mood (meaning they'll be more receptive to what you say). And, since every business in the U.S. seems to have a bowl of them sitting around, they should be pretty easy to come by.)

    More posts to follow in the guide...

  • posted on Apr, 10 2007 @ 10:44 PM
    I believe that most leaders will emerge from Situation X as the unplanned type. My reasoning for this is because the general population is oblivious to what is going on around them. There will be groups of people thrust into situations that they are neither mentally or physically able to endure. Out of these people will undoubtedly bring leaders that have potential. Sadly, when Situation X does happen, most people will not survive the first six months.

    Once the dust settles it will be the true leaders who begin to show themselves. However, some of the more prepared people will more than likely stick to themselves and loved ones. I know I will have trouble trusting "outsiders" if it ever happens.

    posted on Apr, 13 2007 @ 03:13 AM
    In a situation X scenario, I think most people will end up forming into groups with the survivors they find in the immediate hours following the disaster (not including a plague-type scenario, since that's more of a progressive disaster). Psychologically, while people are still in shock, they're more likely to trust the people that are also still in shock with them, and leaders most likely will be those that cope the best with the shock - quite probably those people like ATS users who have considered the various situation X scenarios and acknowledge the possibility of their existence.

    I think that once the initial 72 hours are over, people will be less likely to trust outsiders to their group of survivors, being uncertain of their motivations. For example, if your group has organized itself well enough to have coped with basic necessities in the first few days, they may be resentful of outsiders attempting to come in and take advantage of their hard work. It's important therefore, for a leader to recognize that additions to the group are something they're going to have to deal with, perhaps when the group they're leading has little or no trust or faith remaining in their fellow humans..

    posted on Apr, 14 2007 @ 07:25 PM
    This is, indeed, a great read on the leadership. It's a good overview of everything, and I basically agree with everything said but..

    Hate to rain on your ruckmarch here, theLibra, but I've got to disagree with you on a few minor things and one major thing. Civvie leadership falls short when it's life and death, when Bob from accounting has a hole in his leg from your last encounter with Eaters, when you're got three MREs and five people...etc. The same qualities that made corporate love you and people pressure you for speeches will be of limited application when the seven-six-two is flying over your head. In a survival situation, individuality is more than the enemy, it's a death a sentence come a minute faster for the group (more if you're the one going off by yourself, you're a million times more likely to get offed like that). Every person has something to contribute. Maybe someone's a sack of hammers when it comes to rucking places, but he might be a world-class medic or carpenter. If nothing else, a strong back or an extra set of hands is brilliant.

    I'm an advocate of a small, iron-fisted leader if the group is smaller than about twelve people. As such, I also suspect any given group of survivors won't be more than a section's worth 'fighting' men and women (those of sufficient age and skill to pull defence duties). Yes, there may be more than that with the elderly, infirm, chillun, and whatnot. However, this is first and only big bone of contention I have with what was said: Defence comes first, first and always. If you're going to get clubbed over the head with a rock before you get that second spoonful of beans n' franks, it won't matter that you have another five in your backpack. It won't matter that your elders are wise and your children hale and slightly chubby if Mary from HR and Smith from Tech Support are consuming them. That said, fighters will form the core of your concern- they will be carrying most of the load, facing most of the danger, working the hardest and as a consequence being hurt the most. Yes, the children and elderly are important, don't get me wrong, but they should generally be smart enough to be fairly autonomous and be able to give a hand coralling and occupying the chillun. At last resort, they can be pressed into service for harder tasks for extremely short periods of time, such as combat.

    I've found that in wilderness situations, especially in ones where potentially deadly force is being slung about, you're going to have one hardass Master Corporal, and one slightly gentler Sergeant leading you. The pressures and situations you will encounter when poo is flying are not something encountered in normal life, and most people will balk at some of the more essential situations. A strong, confident leader is required because after awhile, your brian just shuts off and you do what you're damn well told. For example, during field exercises during basic, we had a well-liked Air Force sergeant and a hardcore infantry Mcpl with us for most of the time. At other points, we had a mixture of artillery, navy, comms and infantry leading us. We had hardcore leaders all the time, slack leaders all the time, and various mixtures all the time. We hadn't eaten in twelve hours, slept in twenty-four, and yet hte combination of a mildly soft (by our standards) sergeant and absolutely hardcore master corporal got us through another twelve of more or less nonstop activity before having to micromanage each of us ("Smith, put on your gloves before handling the razorwire." "Brown, stand up." ""Brown, take cover." "Brown, load your Goddamn weapon before you try to fire it." )

    Maybe I should elaborate. While having a single leader is good in and of itself, you're going to run yourself into the ground if you try to run everything yourself even if there's only six of you. Conscript a Mcpl for yourself, one whose word is preferably law. Whil you can be a bit more balanced when you're working with longer-term plans and groupwide plans, your Mcpl can be your go-to guy for all the niggling little BS and your right hand. In addition, as theLibra said, you can get chunked at any moment out there. If you go down, the Mcpl steps up, and the group doesn't totally fall apart.

    That's all I have for now. Good work theLibra especially, and everyone else. Like Libra said- you might not be a leader, but you still can remind folks about points like these.


    [edit on 14-4-2007 by DeusEx]

    posted on Apr, 16 2007 @ 07:27 AM

    Originally posted by DeusEx
    Hate to rain on your ruckmarch here, theLibra, but I've got to disagree with you on a few minor things and one major thing.

    I'm failing to see where we disagreed, as I pretty much agreed with everything you said. I think we approached it from different angles though. You're thinking more in the "combat and/or constant threat" aspect, I'm thinking more in the "rebuilding of civilization" aspect. The leadership style you're describing would definitely keep a group alive through an immediate threat, but what happens when that threat has moved on?

    Eventually, you either have to turn into a band of raiders to support the group's needs, or you have to settle down and start building a more permanent source of year-round food and shelter. The medic in the group is going to eventually get killed or die of old age, as will your metallurgist, your animal doctor, your gunsmith, your agricultural specialist, etc. The children in the group are going to grow up, and are going to need to know something besides how to carry a weapon and kill. There will be psychological breakdowns and mental problems that need to be dealt with if your group is to remain combat effective. Your child-bearing age men and women are eventually going to breed, get pregnant, and produce more offspring.

    I agree that a roving military junta is a good means to an end immediately following Situation X. It is not, however, an end in and of itself. In the long run, you need to have a plan for what to do when the bullets stop flying and the Eaters are no longer swarming your group. That might be a few days, months, or years, but eventually, if civilization is to rise again, people are going to have to settle down in peacetime and start working on preserving what little knowledge is left, providing a year-round food and water supply, production facilities for tools and weapons, housing, etc.

    Originally posted by DeusEx
    However, this is first and only big bone of contention I have with what was said: Defence comes first, first and always.

    Sorry, I shouldn't have assumed that this would Yes, of course, your group must be ready to defend itself. Have lookouts while eating, try to keep the smoke and light from any cooking fires to a minimum or well contained, etc. The Hierarchy of Needs that I listed under priorities were with the assumption that there wasn't immediate threat to life and limb.

    However, this does raise a suggestion for a Post Situation X Defense Tactics Manual. It sounds like you'd be a prime candidate to write one, or if you want, simply suppliment this manual with your military expertise, as I've never been in any of the armed forces, myself. I've had to lead people through a lot of situations, but armed combat is not one of them (unless you count video games like Team Fortress, which I don't). We could absolutely benefit from someone with this experience.

    posted on Apr, 18 2007 @ 05:02 PM

    Originally posted by thelibra
    You're thinking more in the "combat and/or constant threat" aspect, I'm thinking more in the "rebuilding of civilization" aspect. The leadership style you're describing would definitely keep a group alive through an immediate threat, but what happens when that threat has moved on?

    There's always threats, but I supose I see your point. my main concern is the immediate aftermath, mostly that wonderful time when you're en-route to your various caches. Before you settle down, basically. No more than six months or so, I'm hoping. Raiding isn't a good way to live, too many people will be trying to do it already. my leadership style is more geared towards getting everybody out of the combat zone whole.

    However, this does raise a suggestion for a Post Situation X Defense Tactics Manual. It sounds like you'd be a prime candidate to write one, or if you want, simply suppliment this manual with your military expertise, as I've never been in any of the armed forces, myself. I've had to lead people through a lot of situations, but armed combat is not one of them (unless you count video games like Team Fortress, which I don't). We could absolutely benefit from someone with this experience.

    There's about twelve dozen people better qualified than me for that, starting at Grady and forming a line aroudn the block, twice. I'll take a crack at the very very basics on the weekend, though. I haven't led anyone in any sort of combat, however I have been led quite competently and incompetently in simulated combat (goddamn does simmunition ever hurt!). I was also a 'section senior' for a few weeks in basic, and that's about it. I know the basics, and that's about it. Then again, you guys won't be doing platoon level attacks or calling in arty, will you? I'll think about it until Saturday or Sunday, do a little work on it here and there. Have something up by Monday. Good thread here Libra, we just need to even out the focus between the settling and the getting there.

    Point- raising a proper armed force might be something you want to consider.


    posted on Apr, 20 2007 @ 06:07 PM
    As a 20 year enlisted man in the US military IMHO leadership is way overrated in a survival situation. Hierarchical leadership tends to be inflexible and rigid. Adaptability and improvisation are far more important to both individual and group survival.

    posted on May, 1 2007 @ 10:16 AM

    Brief Disclaimer

    I have to make this disclaimer sometimes. No one has brought this up yet, but just to head off any concerns, I frequently use "he" and "his" as default pronouns to describe any unnamed theoretical person. This is not because of any chauvenist views or belief that women are inferior in the least. It's just traditional English usage, and it's a lot less verbose than using "he or she" and "his or her" every single time I need to use a pronoun, and much less confusing than switching randomly between the two genders. It has nothing to do with any personal views on my part, and I am quite aware that women are just as capable of good and effective leadership as men.

    The Military Leader

    Well, now that DeusEx has been so kind as to create a basic tactics manual, I suppose this is a good time to get into the militaristic leadership aspects. Now, the closest I've been to the military is Scouting and having immediate relatives in the armed forces, so I just want that out there. I'm not even going to attempt describing formations and terrain advantages, etc. I'll leave that up to those who know. However, some of the basic tenants of leadership seem to carry through the greatest books on leadership, and I will attempt to impart some of the more basic tenants of the likes of Machiavelli, Sun Tzu, and Musashi.

    Seven Rules For Leading An Army

    1. Always Be Armed - In a conversation between two people, one armed, the other unarmed, the true authority, physically and psychologically, lies with the one whom is armed. A leader who is unarmed is at the mercy of his armed guard. The former can never fully trust the latter, and the latter can never fully respect the former. Additionally, you are your own last line of defense in the event of an attack or assassination attempt.

    2. Use Your Own Troops - The only thing worse than Auxilliary troops are Mercenary troops. When you use Auxilliary troops (that is, troops garnered from someone else's army), you place yourself in their leader's debt, and consign the winnings over to their care. In the event that they lose, you are responsible for their loss. In short, nothing of value is achieved and you actually strengthen a potential future enemy by doing so. Mercenaries are even worse. When you are not at war, they will gladly join up and receive your pay, when you are at war, the meager pay you give them is not enough to entice them to die for you. Men who will fight and kill for money will only do so for as long as they have a chance of living to spend it. Should they actually win a battle, you have now ransomed your people to their "protection", and may find them difficult to be rid of. Attempts at dismissal may result in either protection racketeering, or their joining an enemy of yours. The only troops you can ever count on are your own. Those whom have sworn to die to defend their people for the altruistic purpose of doing so will always fare better in battle, and are far more manageable.

    3. Discipline Among Troops is Paramount - There is a saying over 600 years old that goes "At the beginning of a battle, the French are seen as more than men, and by the end are seen as less than women". Ardor is a fine quality in a soldier. It is what enables him to fire the first shot. It is not, however, a substitute for Discipline. Your troops must do nothing without orders. Their eating, sleeping, washing, voiding, everything, must be on orders. Ardor might cause troops to charge, outnumbered, into the thick of battle, and achieve smashing victory. Discipline, however, will be what keeps your troops on the battlefield after the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd wave of attacks has failed and their best friend is now a chunky puddle of gore on the ground. Discipline is what will keep your army calm and collected in the face of failure. Discipline is what will make them take cover while reloading. Discipline will keep them from breaking formation or retreating. Ardor is only good for the first charge and the last.

    4. Always Be At War In the Mind - The Best military commanders were never at peace, even during peacetime. There are a few factors that are common to every battle. Numbers, terrain, elevation, distance, and visibility will always be factors from now until mankind unlocks more dimensions to fight in. If one's troops have learned how to fight effectively in a desert in New Mexico, they will likely be able to fight effectively in a desert in China. The only difference will be familiarity with the terrain, and if one has properly set up recon reports, this should minimize the effects of unfamiliarity. An effective leader considers not only how to best engage in battle on his own terms, but how to best engage in battle on the worst of terms. If your troops have learned how to respond properly when caught upwind, downhill, and outnumbered, in any terrain, they will be far more likely to survive when it inevitably happens.

    5. An Army Marches on Its Stomach - When at war outside of your own borders, send equipment from home, but garner provisions from the enemy. The equivolent resource to impact ratio of sending food from home is roughly twenty times more wasteful than that of the same exact amount of food coming from the enemy's lands. A protracted campaign not only has the effect of blunting the weapons and ardor of your troops, it also has the potential to impoverish your people. If your enemy has usable equipment, take it and put your own banners and standards on it. Know the limits of your resources before the first troop begins to march; those skilled in doing battle do not raise troops twice, nor transport provisions three times.

    6. Dealing With Conquered Areas - There are two effective ways to deal with a conquered area. Move there yourself and build a headquarters, or send settlement detachments and keep soldiery there to guard them. In either case, if a common language is not shared, it is imperative that you, your troops, and your settlers learn this language as swiftly as possible. Language is an enormously powerful weapon. When one side is not armed with it, they are at a distinct disadvantage over the other. Make certain that your side at least knows both languages, preferably before the battle even begins, but absolutley afterward if you intend to hold or adsorb lands outside your home borders. Settlements are the most efficient way to bring a conquered land under your control and back into a state of order. Treat the enemy's citizens well. Allow the enemy soldiers to return home once their leadership is disposed of. Bring your own citizens in to live, work, and play alongside the enemy's citizens, and they will become one people. Have your soldiers enforce the rule of law until a peace officer force can be developed. As a settlement begins to generate revenue, wealth, and second-generation citizens for the conquered land, then the rest of the landscape will soon follow suit.

    7. Keep Your Advisors Competent and Honest - Know that you will require advisors, you will never be the best at everything. Your people and army must know that you are open to suggestion from even the lowliest individual, but that there is a chain of command. If every citizen is allowed to talk directly to you, whenever they want, you will never get anything done. Thus, as standard course your advisors speak to you, everyone else speaks to them (except where circumstances are otherwise). Your advisors are going to, by their very nature, be seekers of power, wealth, knowledge, etc. If they weren't, they wouldn't have devoted themselves to becoming so good at something that they became your advisor. To keep them loyal, see to it that their needs are well-met. Give them ample rewards, titles, and such. Share honors with them publicly. Make certain that they live in such a good lifestyle, with such accolades, all tied to you, that if they were to turn on you, they would lose it all. Let them know that you demand completely and utter honesty on matters, and test them regulalry on it. If one is dishonest, even once, dimiss him and find another, and let it be well known to both your advisors and your people that you will not tolerate dishonesty from your advisors. For the system to work, the people must have faith that you are not receiving lies in lieu of their concerns. However, you must also establish authority with your advisors. They are not to be allowed to carry arms (see Rule 1). They should bring matters of great importance to your attention, but the should not offer you advice unless you ask for it. If an advisor questions your orders, hear their concern, make your own decision, but they should be aware your second order is not to be questioned. For this system to work, you must remember to seek their advice often, and heed it when neccessary. No matter how many accolades and lifestyles you give a man, if he feels his work is meaningless, he will do a poor job at best, and betray his employer at worst.

      That's it for this installment. More to come as time permits.


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