Showing posts with label leadership. Show all posts
Showing posts with label leadership. Show all posts

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Thoughts on Groups and Leadership



Leading people and being involved in groups are an interesting things. In no particular order I have some thoughts on the matter.

-Never order someone to do something you will not do yourself. Once my commander, a Major, cleaned up human feces with an e tool because he wouldn't order anyone else to do it.

-Following on the first point never give an order you do not think there is a good chance your people will follow. Either you seem out of touch or like a complete a hole for no reason, neither of which is good. Also when they inevitably fail to follow the order you knew they probably wouldn't follow the options are to punish them, which is stupid, or ignore, which makes you look weak are both bad.

-Delegation is an interesting thing. As a leader at almost any level you simply cannot personally do everything that must be done. That being said you can delegate authority but not responsibility. In plain language that means someone can act on your behalf to get something done but if they mess up it's still on you.

-My general belief on delegation is that people should focus on doing stuff they can do which others cannot. People should pass the things others can do onto those folks.

-Of course you need to figure out what people are capable of when handing out tasks. Even if they want to do the right thing (which they generally do) asking folks to do something they can't just doesn't work. If I was given the task to write a code for a computer or rebuild the engine on a vehicle I would almost surely fail, because those tasks are outside of my skill set. Furthermore leaders should, whenever possible, have people do things they are interested in. Even if it causes some shuffling of other things if you have folks do stuff they are interested in they will do better and everything goes well.

-The preparedness/ survivalism scene is full of people who want to be the leader but absent people who want to be led. Every yahoo wants to be the Chief but nobody wants to be an Indian.

-Leading people without a readily apparent extrinsic (money, etc all) motivator is a hassle. Honestly I don't envy 'leaders' in preparedness/ survivalism. Aside from the fact that they are herding cats, they have to figure out how to create intrinsic motivation in people to get them to do stuff. Leading a bunch of cats by consensus in an environment where you have no stock and an iffy carrot would suck.

-In a decent sized group peer pressure is a hell of a thing.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Quote of the Day

If your leadership style requires using machine guns on your own troops, you’re doing it wrong.
-Weapons Man

That is an understatement if I have ever heard one.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Quote of the Day

"I really wasn't thinking strait. Sometimes good command decisions get compromised by bad emotional responses."

-Ben on Lost

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Survivalist Leadership

I lead men for a living. My job involves planning and executing training as well as real world tactical operations. I also have the unpleasant task of doing enough administrative stuff to keep higher off my back. In any case what a lot of people theorize about I DO.

I don't think you can talk about leadership without talking about motivation. Namely the two types of motivation; intrinsic and extrinsic. Basically intrinsic motivation is when you want to do something for your own personal reasons like pride, sense of duty, honor, etc. Extrinsic motivation is when you are motivated by some kind of factor outside of your own self. Example- If you want to run a marathon to make yourself feel good the motivation is intrinsic. If you want to run a marathon to become closer to and hopefully get together with the cute runner girl from 2 doors down the motivation is extrinsic.

Intrinsic motivation is far far stronger and more importantly longer lasting than extrinsic motivation. If halfway through your train up for said marathon cute runner girl says it isn't ever going to happen that extrinsic motivation is gone; so unless you find yourself really enjoying the running that goal is dead and it is couch time. However if you really wanted to run that marathon for you and cute runner girl was just worth asking out as target of opportunity (yeah maybe it is sexist to say that but single women do the same stuff albeit for different criteria) then you will keep running just not with her.

Leadership is hard. If you put aside all the classist junk about "working men", "building something with your hands" and "good honest jobs" you will realize that the reason managers and supervisors typically make a lot more money is because those jobs are a lot harder. They hold more responsibility as well as requiring more knowledge and skills. We have a free market system and those jobs pay more for a reason. Figuring out how to motivate, teach and get the best out of different men with different needs, goals, concerns and capabilities is hard. You have personality conflicts and strong heads at all levels. Also some people, no matter how well intentioned, are just dumb asses. Seriously give it a shot some time.

In some ways leadership at work is a lot easier than peer leadership. If I tell my guys to go to their rooms and come back in 10 minutes wearing PT shorts, ACU shirts, shower shoes,  ponchos and helmets they will. They might think I've got a screw loose but they will be back in 10 minutes in that uniform because they have to. There is a discussion with an NCO about how to do this or that (a whole nothing thing in and of itself and for the little it is worth I find getting them in on the planning process early works best for everyone, it gets their experience and they "buy into the plan" but keeps sharp shooting to a minimum) and I try to balance taking advantage of their experience and great input without letting the "good idea fairy" go wild is a fine art. Though at the end of the day if I say "fist pound, do this now" they ultimately will do it.

The good part is that while I solicit and consider input the ultimate decisions come from me. There is no being gridlocked about an issue because people disagree. Things can be kept moving and that is real good. However there is the disadvantage that some folks are there to ask what their country (or whatever other job) can do for them, not to ask what they can do for their country. Maybe they are 18 and don't have the grades to go to school or the desire to do a job they are readily qualified for around home or they are 29 with a couple kids and a wife and while they are burned out on the Army they are going to keep putting in the minimum to get the check.

Peer leadership is so much harder than normal leadership in a hierarchical organization of some sort. You have to lead by consensus and majority if not outright unanimous decisions. Leading survivalist/ libertarian types is truly like trying to herd cats. They all want to do their own thing if just to snub their nose at any sort of authority. They all have different priorities, desires and concerns. Also since money and or time are generally involved somehow in any meaningful decisions things are greatly complicated. Lets say you and the crew decide that everybody should do X. If it involves money you have to deal with not just what every likes and will agree upon but what everybody can afford to spend, or wants to spend but also what their spouse is OK with them spending. So instead of one guy deciding (like in a hierarchical organization) and something happening we have to get an agreement. Not just any agreement but an agreement everybody is pretty agreeable with, can afford and can get their spouse to sign on for. See how much of a pain that is. It is good that people are truly there because they want to be but they aren't necessarily all there with the same goals and for the same reasons.

Also unless you are in a rigid, likely family or church based group (both of which have their own issues) there is no mechanism for enforcement. If one of my guys at work decides to just ignore what he is told then his life will get real unpleasant for awhile. Eventually he will learn or go work somewhere else. If a buddy decides not to do what we all agreed upon MAYBE we can guilt trip him a bit but that's all that can be done. To get any true consensus and group movement you pretty much have to move at the lowest common denominator. Factor in the diverse concerns people have (some are gun centric, others food centric, others love gadgets, etc) and it is real hard.

I find that progress in terms of peer leadership has a lot more to do with ability to convince and bring consensus than it does knowledge and ability over the given subject matter. If you grew up on a small farm and have actually survived a real life socioeconomic collapse as well as two dozen gun fights, a full blown war and some other stuff but can't build consensus to get anything done your group will not have progress. Conversely a guy who read a couple basic preparedness books and went to a pistol shooting class that can bring real consensus and convince people of the importance of acting in a certain way could get a lot done.

Does one kind of leadership help with the other? I would say they do have some stuff in common. Interestingly enough I can tie this into teaching also. Leadership (and to me teaching) is about getting people to want to do what you want them to do and then teaching them how to do it. You can get them to do what you want through love, cult of personality, personal relationships, fear or whatever. I would say that fear isn't the best way to go but other than that you just need some way towards this goal.

In my particular situation I have the benefit that in some areas of survivalism (tactical stuff, survivability, gear that works, guerrilla warfare, etc) my hierarchical leadership job makes me something of a subject matter expert. Like so many other things there is a significant gap between amateurs and professionals. What some folks read a book about or maybe take a weekend course on I do for a living. It is a lot easier to build consensus when you are well informed and able to make logical points to defend your position.

At work I can rule by decree. In the motley crew of friends and family I could call a "tribe" I lead in more of a warlord sort of way. I am not exactly elected but fill the position because I am decisively the most qualified. I also fill this role just as long as my tribe wants me to.  Even then I really just have power in the area of making war (or in this case survivalism). If we pick up a member who is better qualified we may sub divide areas of specialty or I may get to have an easier job. Really either would be cool with me. The only thing better than getting to take it easy and not have to convince people of the importance of this or the need to do that would be having someone better qualified as our warlord. What I am capable of getting done is pretty modest though I do have some plans floating around in my head to improve that. When Ryan, JD starts bringing in a professional wage pretty soon and thus has some discretionary income we may be able to get some more stuff cracking. Maybe we can get some group buys going or something.

Anyway it is time for me to drink a bunch of water and get some sleep.
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