Episode 147 S4-23
Why a Chain of Command is Essential for Survival
Battle for the South Ch 23
The chain of command is critical in all areas of our lives. It does not just apply to the military or a corporate structure. Each one of our families operates under a chain of command daily. The chain of command provides order, unified direction and a strategic direction for groups and organizations. The chain empowers decision makers with the power and authority to make decisions. This authority keeps the group on track and helps avoid chaotic situations. Opinions within a group can vary greatly and cause problems without a command structure to maintain a flow of decision making. In a long term survival situation, establishing and maintaining a chain of command will provide increased group cohesion and increase group survival percentages.
The leader of the group is not necessarily the person who can execute each task required the most proficiently. The leader is the person who organizes the task performers into a cohesive working force. The individual in charge of maintaining the group needs to understand each task in order to delegate the appropriate group member to that task. The person in charge of a specific tasks maintains a slice of the pie, while the leader is in charge of making sure that all the parts come together to form a whole pie. Typically the persons completing the individual tasks will appreciate having someone else organizing all of the other working parts so they are freed up to focus on completing their task.
It is essential to clearly define the roles within the chain of command. You don't want too many people trying to guide the groups direction. If roles are not defined clearly, individuals will try to fill the void, even if they are not instructed to do so. This can lead to personality and leadership style conflicts. These types of discords within the group will decrease group cohesion. Lack of cohesion
can lead to disjointed actions and reactions. This is a big problem in an emergency situation when time is against you and decisions need to be made and executed rapidly. A disaster scenario is not the time when you want to be determining roles. Clearly defining the roles in the group all provides value to the members. Everyone knows they have an important task to accomplish and they feel valued. The leader guides this process. Another side effect of not having the roles in the group clearly defined is a decrease in overall group morale. A survival situation will be stressful enough without another factor helping to alter individual attitudes.
A solid chain of command with a good leader increases your chances of survival. Brain says that a good book to read on what makes a great leader is Pete Blaber's book: The Mission, The Men and Me. In his book Pete explains that the mission is always the
first priority. Focus on the mission maintains the greater good. If the mission is on track the main focus then turns to the men and women in the team. When the team's needs are maintained those individuals will be better suited to complete the mission. After both the mission and the men are taken care of then the needs of the leader can be addressed. The leader's needs must come last. They must instill confidence in their team and be trusted and respected by the team. If this trust is lacking it can destroy a group. The individual in charge must be able to function and remain calm under stress. She needs to make accurate decisions quickly while on the fly. Time will not wait for her to be indecisive. As a leader, it is essential to have a good strategy to follow. Use the leadership rule of three: Come up with three courses of action and go with the best. Don't take to long and second guess everything. Start executing the plan and use situational awareness to adjust on the go as needed. A leader must also be able to delegate well. He needs to play to the strengths and weaknesses in the group. If this is not done properly the group will lose trust and confidence in both the leader and potentially other team members who were not given the task they could excel at the best. The person in charge must motivate the team and not demand performance. She needs to stay open minded and take suggestions from the group into consideration. The leader needs a selfless attitude and doesn't mind jumping in and helping with the tasks at hand when required to do so.
Some individuals feel that when they collaborate as a leader that it is a sign of weakness but Brian believes this is far from the truth. Collaboration between the team and the leader shows strength of both the group and the leader because it shows that the group values the leader to make the correct decision while the leader in turn values the group's input as to an appropriate course of action. It is true that sometimes the leader must make the call and the group needs to trust the leader enough to follow. Typically a leader wants to use the "Trashcan Management Theory." This theory suggests that the team uses a brainstorming process to gather all the possible solutions and then presents them to the leader so the leader can determine the best course of action. If a leader is not accepting ideas from the group, he needs to do some serious re-evaluation. The ideas harvested from the group can bring insight into the situation that the leader may never have thought of.
The chain of command must maintain a strong ethical code within the group and it's leaders. Individual property is something that most individuals respect very highly. A survival situation may put that ethic into question. An individual must ask themselves how she would feel if their property was stolen to determine if that ethical code is worth breaking. When times are tough ethics are going to be put to the test. If a leader compromises their ethics, his group members may start to question their trust in him. If the leader would turn on a group member and possible take their life then what would stop that leader from doing it again. Who would want to be a part of that group? The leader needs to be able to help her team, find out how they tick and help them reduce their stress levels. A group leader will needs extra hands to help accomplish tasks. The leader cannot simply remove individuals every time they stress out. Having a game plan in place to handle emotional loss of control will be essential and should be done immediately. The leader must recognize that they too have faults and will be affected by stress. When life and death is on the line, the leader needs be making good decisions. This means he should have another individual who can fill his shoes. Decision making skills will degrade under long term stress in a leader of a team as well as the group members.
When you are planning your survival group you probably want to think in more of a horizontal structure where there are equal group members with a leader that is mostly a tie breaker to discord within the group. Your survival group may not be very big and everyone will have to perform multiple roles. The leader should be a person who gently guides the group and elicits opinions before making decisions. This empowers the team to perform at a higher level and feel more valued within the group. A vertical structure, where a lower level answers to a higher lever and they answer to a higher level and they answer to a higher level, etc, would be more appropriate with a larger security force.
Featured Quote From Today's Chapter:
"They made a choice. They're on their own."