Every Group or community has a leader. In the army we learn, "leaders are not born, they are made" and we also learned, "not every person is born to be a leader. Any one who has ever been part of any group, be it a baseball team, a platoon in the army or a civilian community knows this to be true. Sometimes rather a group survives and prospers or fails and vanishes will depend upon the leadership ability of that group. Although not all persons will be suited to be leaders, each and every one can be a credit to the group and contribute to the groups well being.
Now the leader is not a king or emperor, he or she is a person who possess not only certain leadership ability but also training and education. The leader must consider this to be their contribution to the group itself and must never allow themselves to think they are above the group or that the group owes them anything more than what they owe anyone else in the group. In other words, the position of leader does not entitle a person to be abusive toward other members of the group nor does it give the leader any special status and privilege. If the leader forgets this advise he or she will soon find themselves alone in a survival situation because the group has mutinied against them. So it is a balancing act of sorts and the leader will must always remember that being a diplomat is more successful than a bully. No one appreciates a bully, no matter what the situation or circumstance.
If you have been in the military and you do possess the knowledge, training and qualifications of leadership, you must also remember that in most circumstances the other members of the group have not been in the military. They are civilians and you can not order them around as though they were privates in your platoon. Also they will have family members among themselves and will not take lightly to being ordered to do anything, especially with their family members standing right there watching. The leader must realize that in their family unit, they are the leader. It is simply a matter of common respect among the group toward one another. This is where diplomatic skills will come into play. Instead of ordering, it is often better to suggest and explain why it is a good idea to do something. Remember that tyrannical dictators are NEVER appreciated in a civilian society. A good example to remember also that in the army, when the platoon is preparing to take a break to eat, it is always the officers who eat last after all of the men have been served. Sometimes this may not be possible or practical and the officers may be served at the same time. This is an example for all leaders to remember that with out the men the officers themselves would not survive. In a survival situation everyone needs to close their eyes and sleep eventually. Without that group, you would not be able to sleep in safety and security.
So you are the leader, either chosen by the group or simply accepted by the group because it may be obvious to them that you can get them through these hard times. So now you’re on easy street, right? No you are not! The leader is not expected to be out performing manual work that may be necessary for the survival of the group, such as collecting water from the local river or stream. What the leader does do is organize the group and is selecting or asking for volunteers who will be performing those necessary functions needed for the groups survival. Now all members of the group are expected to contribute to the general welfare of the group by performing such tasks necessary for the survival of the group. If you are a group in the wilderness, then there will be fire wood that needs to be collected and chopped. There will be water that needs to be collected from the local river or stream. That water will need to be filtered and boiled for consumption by the group. There will need to be a hunting party whose job it is to hunt game, and bring back to the group. There will be a lot of work needing to be done on a daily basis in order for your group to survive. The leader is the one who must have all these things constantly in mind and on schedule to be done. The leader is the organizer and the motivator. There will also be a need for Security of the area the group is located in. The leader can not possibly accomplish all of these individual tasks himself, so he or she must delicate authority. This will mean to either ask for volunteers from the group or select those for the tasks. The leader must then delegate authority to someone in that group to make sure that the job is done. He must then go on to the next job or task to be done. In the army this is known as a “detail”. so you might have 4 or 5 details going on at the same time being performed by different sub-groups within your group. Leadership is not going to be easy and if you fail, then the group fails. The members of the group will look to you to make sure all these things are accomplished, although they themselves may not realize or know all the details and tasks being performed. Now whatever the circumstance, the leader must always maintain calm control. That means that you must at all times, regardless of the circumstances appear to be right on top of every situation. If you appear to be panicked, frightened or stressed, then this will reflect on the group and will cause panic among them too. The closed example I can give you is that as a parent of a child, your child stumbles and scrapes their knees. Well this happens and it is painful for the child, they cry and are scared. Now the temperament of the parent is all important, if you panic, you cause panic with the child and you end up making matters worse. If you are calm, take care of the situation, doctor them up and tell them to be more careful next time, you have directly stabilized the situation instead of bringing panic.
I use the military system of organization as an example because of my back ground in the Army. It is a good system and has been developed for thousands of years. The same principles are used in basic civilian administration in any society, and it works well. Hopefully you, the leader has been an officer in the military, and hopefully a field officers or what is called a line officer. Now if you have agroup, them if you are wise you will first find out if anyone else in the group has military experience, preferably a non-commissioned officer. If you are so lucky to have veterains around you, then structure the group along the same lines as in the military. Remember though that the most of the people around you have not been in the military and you must adjust accordingly. They may not be use to taking orders as privates did in the army. Remember to deligate authority to the NCO's but you being the officer in charge and your NCO's work day will probably be twice that of what the rest of the group day will be.
Now there is an issue of former Police Officers being leaders. This might work in some cases, but often it will depend upon the temperament of the individual themselves. As a leader, you are not “Top Cop”. A person is not necessarily qualified simply because they were a police officer before this survival crisis occurred. That individual may very well be suitable for security of the group and the area inhabited by the group, but then so is most anyone who has been in the military. If you are a former military officer, then your most valuable assets will be veterans who are former NCO's. If you are a former NCO, then you will know what to do and you will support your officer to the best of your ability.
If the group you are leading is fairly large in numbers, then you should establish an organization similar to that of the military with Officers and Sergeants, although you may not necessarily be using these terms. You may simply select a person with a particular background which is necessary and beneficial to the group and place that person in a particular leadership position subordinate to you. An example is if you have anyone in the group who has a background in medicine, such as a nurse or if you are lucky you might have a doctor. Obviously these people would be better suited to run the community medial care facility. You would not want that particular person out on a detail acquiring water from the local stream or going on hunting expeditions and having to hall a deer back to camp. It would be a waist of their talents and a poor choice on your part as leader. Now you may also very well have people in your group who are very highly educated, but that education does not necessarily qualify them for any leadership position. They simply might have been great at electronics or computer programming, but how would any of that knowledge benefit the group for survival? So perhaps these people might be better suited in some sort of supply position. The leader must be able to utilize, improvise, and make best use of the people he leads while still maintaining a sense of community.
The Leader should also establishing a system like in the military. In a typical US Army Battalion, there is a Colonel who is the highest ranking Officer. There is also what is referred to as an XO, or Executive Officer. The XO is second in command and should the Commander be killed or in some way incapacitated and unable to command, the XO can will lead the battalion. So in a survival group I would also recommend a second in command. Now in a Battalion there is also a Sergeant Major who always accompanies the Commander, usually everywhere he goes. The Sergeant Major is the highest ranking Non-Commissioned officer in the battalion. He is a liaison of sorts between the commander and the enlisted men, and his primary interaction is with the Sergeants whose job it is to maintain order and discipline through out the ranks and follow the directives of the higher command. The way this is constructed in a civilian group or a survival group or community is as it is in the army, so that at all times their is a leader available. Remembering that even with the leader, it is not about the leader, it is all about the group or the community. The community or group can not risk falling a part simply because the leader is killed or perhaps is ill. If this type of system is not set up then the group or community is doomed for failure eventually.
The Leadership from the firsts moments of the survival situation, rather they are functioning as NCOs or Officers, must be on top of this all the time. If you are a person who is lucky enough to find yourself in a group like I have described, but you have never been in the military and you never spent much time Hunting, Camping, Fishing, finds yourself or even hiking, well keep in mind that you are low on the social latter. Your contribution to the group may be simply acquiring water from the local stream so that the group can have showers, cook food, and drinking water, but your contribution is valuable and as everyone you are needed. For those people not familiar with military life and structure the first thing you need to know is do not expect to see the officers and NCO's doing as much physical work as you. You cannot do their job so do not expect them to do yours. Their contributions to the group is to make sure that everything necessary for the survival of the group is being done so that their will be water to drink and food to eat and security in place so that you are not eaten by a hungry bear while you are sleeping. Remember though that there is strength in numbers, alone in a survival situation is not a very promising position to be in.