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Every survival group should have a designated leader who is the final decision maker. That does NOT mean a dictator. It means someone who has the skills, respect, and organizational skills to pull together a group of mixed-skilled people and make something work. He or she must be able to conduct meetings that stay on the point and not wander off the subject. The leader should be part diplomat, part negotiator, and part parent. Qualities of the leader to consider include:

  • Age and maturity. The oldest may be too old to physically handle the demands of leadership, and the younger members will be too immature to make "grown up" decisions. Leadership is not easy. A good leader is a person helps out wherever needed.

  • Education. All military officers have college degrees. The type of degree isn't important, its just that by obtaining the degree he or she has clearly demonstrated that they can learn fast, retain most of what they learned, and complete a time-consuming task to a successful completion. You don't really want a grade-school dropout as your leader. He or she can't complete a project.

  • Respect. The most experienced or most talented person in the group may not be the one person universally respected by every member of the group. Without respect there will be no cohesion or group effort. "Why are we doing this for him/her"? Or "Let's do it for him/her".

  • Previous Leadership Experience. The successful manager of a large company will know a lot more about balancing the diverse personalities of a large group. Somebody with a solitary job - with no interface with the public - will probably freeze up when faced with a sobbing teenager. However, without the respect mentioned above, their role as leader will be severely compromised. If you want an entertaining and very informative book on this subject, read Richard Marcinko's Rogue Warrior's Strategy for Success. Simon

  • Technical Skills. A person with a lot of technical skills in fields unrelated to the outdoors or survival may still be the best choice for a leadership position. He or she may possess the mental capability to organize and schedule events that rapidly lead to a product. This has to be balanced by a person who has spent their lives outdoors, and knows the ins and outs of outdoor living.

  • COMMON SENSE. Of all the leadership abilities, common sense is, to me, the most important. It makes no sense for a leader to go off half-cocked to obtain a totally unobtainable goal. I've worked for "pie in the sky" leaders, and to a man, they were terrible leaders best left on the battlefield.

  • Gender. Absolutely not a factor. Some of the best bosses I've had were women. My wife, for example. She's my boss.

  • Universal Acceptance. Whoever you pick should be accepted as leader by everyone. One lone member who holds a grudge will hamper the entire group effort. He or she may even work against it.

Lee Iacoca is busy, don't call him. Donald Trump is too pretty to be seen musses up his hair. And General Patton is dead. Sorry.