On Leadership, by Old Bobbert

Editor’s Introductory Note:  This is the 30th article written by Old Bobbert that has been posted in SurvivalBlog.  In all, he’s written more than 97,000 words for SurvivalBlog, and we are grateful!

True leadership is a status conferred by knowledgeable persons whose choices reflect their recognition of ability, experience, integrity, character, and a full commitment to a common cause or endeavor.

Being chosen as a leader generally is a result of a decision that they will be supported and enabled by the leader to be successful and secure in the common group efforts.

Often the new group members have made their choice of membership based on their confidence that the current leader is the person they need to provide access for them to the means and support necessary for their success in a common effort or cause.

This definition of who and what a leader is has come to me through many decades of personal experience starting with my enlistment in the US Army, in Jan 1958, at age seventeen as a smart Alec kid who was a high school dropout with a severe speech impediment, stuttering.

Naturally the army, immediately after basic training, sent me to Fort Sill, Oklahoma to the Signal Corps school for radio communication equipment repair.

I learned a lot about the realities of life and true leadership during two years, July 1958 -1960, in the 25th Infantry Division in the then Territory of Hawaii, not yet a state. In that environment, I was able to earn two promotions in the first year of active duty. I worked within a specific plan to be a success in spite of my then disability. I believed then, and now, that being disabled is not being unable. Plus two more years of stateside duty, all in communications, and a good discharge in March, 1962. I am now old enough to have great-grandkids.

Next was a few wastrel years of what we now know was non-combat PTSD followed by wonderfully beneficial time, 54+years, as Kathy’s husband and being the dad to four terrific kids, three sons plus a fabulous daughter.

As a husband and dad, I was able to correct the stuttering and became a professional communicator and leader in the commercial real estate rehab / resale business. I learned to be a good leader primarily through teaching our children to be dependable and to be fully qualified as both followers and as leaders.

As an Army veteran, I am to this day an active American Legion Life member and past Legion Post Commander. I was chosen to be a replacement Legion Post Commander to a failing post where the previous Commander had died from an unexpected heart attack. That assignment was at a post fifty miles for my home. It would be a lot of expensive traveling. At that time I was chosen to be the Legion’s Adjutant for my state, and that was a great pleasure.

But, I accepted the assignment as a necessity of legion service, with the provision that I could take with me five experienced Legion members as a group effort to go there to grow local leadership for two years max, and then return to our home post. We had a fabulous team experience at that post witch we still treasure to this day. It is a great post serving the local veterans and the community youth.

As an active member of our church, which we found at age 46, Kathy and I were area leaders in the 12 Step Addiction Recovery Program. 50 years of smoking had carried me directly into what was diagnosed as “terminal” COPD and I briefly stopped breathing on Day 5 of a 12-day induced coma.

My personal life experience therein definitely includes timely reliance on a fully established support system ready to deal with expected and probable difficulties. I woke up on day twelve badly wanting a cigarette and said to myself and to my family, never again! I have not relapsed and I have never looked back. I have never given up on my family or my support group.

As a chosen local leader in these areas, I have learned that I never need to be the star of the show, and that the best recognition / satisfaction often goes to the successful show’s director and producer.

Question: Why am I doing an article on leadership in a global blog that commits time, effort, and expensive space to ” how to do” projects? Especially when I totally support the absolute need for the “how to” information.

Answer: Because every successful “how to” project / effort/gadget / tool / process will always need a hands-on operator, on-going maintenance, parts replacements, and eventually an upgrade and/or a newer and better model.

And each of these predictable efforts will generate an immediate need for proven leadership, plus a then present established in-house support system readily available for the group / family membership. History has continuously proven that such a support system always follows knowledgeable, committed, and successful leadership.

All successful leadership is measured in improved membership’s enablement and betterment. Our gadgets and tools and procedures all wear out sooner or later, usually with very little advance notice or easy replacement funding availability. But on the other hand, so to speak, good leaders are continuously training their replacements because true leaders know that they too will also wear out and will then need replacements already in place, fully qualified and ready to serve the needs of the group effort.

Growth in membership usually precedes the need for additional qualified leaders. Gender should never be an automatic disqualifier.

“B” – Lone wolves die and they die alone, because they are alone! Again, this is a simple and well-established historical fact of life. Everyone has to sleep and loners do not have night security.

Everyone needs more than just the food in the backpack or the truck bed. Everyone needs someone to talk to and to be a trusted companion. Isolation breeds emotional disasters and very poor decisions.

Loners make simple small mistakes, and reap the unintended consequences of disaster caused by the non-repair of their mistake, caused by the lack of awareness of their mistake, which is a predictable result of being a loner. We, every one of us, need one another, every time, in our survival efforts! If we do not take care of each other, then no one will be taken care of.

You have most likely already noticed the regular use of the word “GROUP” by this time. “Group” can also be the team, or the family, or the tribe, or the town, or your neighborhood. It is always the assembly of people committed to the security and future enablement of the members. And we must be aware of the very important historical elements of group failure during difficult events and eras.

#1 – Failure to have a true and well qualified leader.

#2 – Failure by the members to support the leader in the group management of goal achievement.

#3 – Failure to protect the group support system and the group area borders. It is real time history in action, everywhere, and every day, for everybody!

#4 is a known killer! Failure to have a comprehensive written plan covering the many different and competing elements of the group needs and goals. The plan must reference both the pluses and negatives of the real time situation of the group existence and dangers.
Let’s do the leadership qualification questions together, starting with leadership recognition. What positives do we need to see in a potential leader, and what are negatives we must avoid at all costs? By the numbers…. The good stuff:

#1- Demonstrated emotional maturity supported by genuine communication skills, both individually and in group settings.

#2 – An ongoing committed ability to delegation of both limited authority and the needed support to subordinate team/ effort leaders in their efforts to achieve needed group 2nd level goal successes.

#3 – Physical strength and health This is important, especially at the start of the group existence, due to the many varied and often difficult processes that will require many hours of tiring effort and endless communication.

#4 – A good leader is a good listener and willing to deal with, and correct mistakes, never attempting to place error blame on someone else.

#5. – A good leader will show a strong ability to seldom correct others in public and will demonstrate an ability to generously give recognition in appropriate pubic situations to members who have done well.

#6, A good leader will not need to be the central figure in any manner. A good leader will often be seen trying to enable others to be successful. Note the important words “OFTEN” and “ENABLE”.

#7. And finally: A good leader will maintain a priority of quietly providing care and protection for the children, the elderly in poor condition, and the disabled, remembering always to be their enabler for those necessary group chores that can be within their abilities, and be their responsibility and their successes.

Everyone needs to have an appropriate measure of dignity in their lives, at every age and condition.

Note: Good Leaders Get Better, and poor leaders get replaced

And now we get to a part that I do not enjoy, but I do recognize as very necessary. We need to be aware of the attributes of a poor candidate for leadership, remembering that a poor leader can easily be a very good person, with many valued skills and talents, leadership just not being one of them, A valued rule of thumb in our leader selection process would be to never forget the following people concept:

and the positive rendition continues with this:

So here we go with a few of the many negatives we will need to be aware of, and on occasion we may to need to accept a “small few” and then move on:

#1. A poor leader loves his / her own voice too much and appears to be a poor listener.

#2. A poor leader may well be an expert in one or many areas and wants everyone to know it and give recognition.

#3. A poor leader will often automatically go to the front of every line.

#4. A poor leader will not easily volunteer to take a turn at rotating unpleasant group chores.

#5. A poor leader will not hesitate to correct others in public so as to look the part of a leader.

#6. A poor leader often presents a visible attitude of superiority and personal entitlement.

#7. A poor leader will sometimes simply and quietly, ignore the needs of children, the elderly and the disabled.

#8. A poor leader will often have a few loyal and easily impressed close followers who are always with him / her.

And finally,

#9. A poor leader will often be a silent bigot in the areas of race, sex, age, faith, abilities, or disabilities. This fault can occasionally be spotted by the absence of any vocal or actual support for these group members.

We must learn to accept the need to not forget that many poor candidates for leadership can often be productive members who will fill a need within the group, and that they can be most productive & least problematic within a “partner / buddy” chore arrangement.

Good luck in our highly probable near future difficulty response efforts. Remember to always practice situational security awareness, and to teach others by in-person word, hand-delivered unsigned documents, and well-timed personal example. Orwell’s 1984 is here today.