Leadership is a strange thing. Many people throughout history have become reluctant, yet legendary leaders while others have been technically in a leadership position, but the results of their command were far from stellar. Several of the later type come to mind easily. Many preppers assume that during some catastrophe, we as a group will naturally be tapped to be the leaders due to our forethought, preparation, and skills – presumably for dealing with the crisis, that others around us simply don’t have. On the surface, I can see the merit in that idea because if I was in a situation that was completely foreign to anything I knew or was able to cope with, I would look to the people who seemed to know what they were doing and follow their lead.
Preppers take great strides to prepare for bad times but I don’t know that simply “being prepared” or having a plan will necessarily make you a great prepper leader. Being prepared for the worst won’t guarantee that anyone else will view you as a leader either. The saying goes if you are leading and nobody is following you, then you are only taking a walk. I bring this up because I do think that some preppers expect to be in charge when the grid goes down and more than a few might be looking forward to the idea. They might be saying to themselves, “Hey I saved up all of these supplies and I made plans so I get to decide what happens now.” With this attitude, they would be saying that it is their way or the highway no matter what. If this is you, it might be setting yourself up for a big disappointment and possibly worse.
Who looks forward to being in Prepper leadership anyway?
I think it is natural for people to want to be in charge of anything they are involved with to a certain point. If I am engaged in something, I want to see some of my ideas acted upon and instinctively I make decisions based on what I know or think. This doesn’t mean I am the leader of anything and it certainly doesn’t make me the best leader simply because I have ideas. It also doesn’t mean my decisions will be right and a point that I think many people miss is there are many different ways to lead. Not all of these have to look like you are the boss handing out orders.
Servant leadership, for example, is one approach that I think could serve many preppers well who find themselves in the position of being looked at for decisions and advice in a dire situation. What is servant leadership, you ask? One definition goes something like this: The authority figure (you) in servant leadership environments attempts to promote innovation, empower employees (other preppers), and assure the well-being (keep everyone alive) of those around them. Learn everything you think you need to know about what is servant leadership and how it will help you lead people in different ways of life. This goes back to another thought I had about saving as many people as possible but it’s done in a slightly different way.
In my home, for example, I will usually spout off with whatever I think or believe is the best decision when my opinion is asked for. This is a horrible trait of mine that I am still working to improve. It is more important to listen sometimes (all times?) than it is to speak and my willingness to pop off with whatever is, on the top of my head, has gotten me in trouble more times than I care to remember.
My wife on the other hand will usually have a more even-tempered approach when asked to make a decision. This isn’t a universal law by any stretch, but the times when I am having a knee-jerk reaction (and I am flat-out wrong) are when she usually uses logic to get me to consider alternatives. What does this mean?
It means that I, even though I am supposed to be the leader of my house and family don’t always get things right. I am human and I make mistakes – a lot of them. Fortunately, they haven’t been mistakes that cost me too dearly and it isn’t like I am always wrong either. Sometimes, I quickly pop off a great idea or a wise thought but again that isn’t all of the time.
Leading people during crisis will be tough
For a long time I assumed that in a crisis, for my family at least, I would have the first and likely last word on everything we would be doing. I figured, like so many others that I have been giving these subjects more thought than anyone else in my family so who could question my decisions? If I say it is time to bug out, we go. If I say we aren’t going to give charity to someone, we don’t. If I say someone must die for heinous offenses, who would argue with me?
Over the years I have learned; like I mentioned above, that I don’t always have the right answers but I do always have an answer. I think I know what is right in every situation but sometimes when I learn more information or consider things differently I will change my mind. In a life and death situation the decisions you make could be just that. Life or Death to yourself, your family or to strangers you don’t even know. If I find myself in a situation where people are looking to me for leadership I will try to remember that this is a heavy responsibility. It is not a title I will have been given simply because I have purchased supplies. It is not a supreme right I have that empowers me above anyone else purely because I have chosen to lead this lifestyle of preparedness. Leaders aren’t anything more than the ones held responsible for the lives entrusted to their care. Leadership doesn’t come with more wisdom or better ideas. That happens in spite of the responsibility of the position. Leadership requires trust and respect of the people you are leading. If you don’t have that, you are just a dictator.
What good is prepping if you aren’t in charge?
Prepping for me personally is not something I do because I am looking to set up my own dictatorship if/when the grid goes down. I don’t have visions of being the Mayor of Bartertown or anything closely resembling that. I do think that I will likely have a lot of good ideas if I find myself in that type of situation, but I am not running a campaign for the next Dear Leader of Armageddon. I don’t really want to be in charge of anything more than my family if I am being honest. Depending on the size of the family I am fortunate enough to be responsible for, that might be a shared leadership in any case. A reader of our blog said that they could see themselves more in a second in command role. Ready, willing and able to offer advice or support as needed and that is an easy vision for me to see for myself in any crisis.
To those who steadfastly demand that you will be in charge of everything should the world go sideways, that might not work out the way you want it to. History has shown that people will follow a good leader to the ends of the earth, but bad leaders usually fall in some way. Rather than having the mind of a dictator who will make the final say in all matters once the grid goes down from behind the scope of a long rifle and a mountain of beans, you might look at this another way.
Preppers I think will be natural targets of attention in a crisis once their status is known. This can be a good thing if you make wise decisions. It could get you killed if you have the “screw them all” attitude. Sure you can hide as long as you want and practice Grey Man but if all goes well you will still be alive unless the rest of the world dies. Since you obviously know a thing or two by the fact of your evident life, people may look to you for help, guidance and perhaps leadership. Make sure this is a decision you do not make lightly and do not wish for foolishly.
Prepping gives you options that people who do not prepare might not have. One of these options is knowledge, perspective and hopefully a more reasoned, carefully thought out plan. Use this to make lives better after a disaster. Don’t plan on taking that all to the grave with you or let your rush to dictate, force someone to decide your time is up for the good of everyone else.