It could be worse – Captain America could be your Team Leader
Contracting attracts all types: The former action guys, the recently retired soldier trying to get ahead, the adventure seekers, and the cops looking for more than just walking the same beat every day.
Eventually, these folks get in the door, find a contract, and are let loose on the operational theater to perform missions. Often times, they become Team Leaders and fulfill a critical role in a PMC’s staffing count. Let’s examine some of the ‘Leaders’ that fall a bit short and educate ourselves on what to watch out for.
We have all had bad Team Leaders (TLs) and the list of their personal faults could fill a 500gig hard drive and beg for more space.
Contracting seems to draw the breed out into the open and remain on display for far too long. You know the type – the ass buddy of the Ops Manager or the new member of the click’. Hell, refer to the contractor article on douche bags and take your pick.
No matter their personal shortcomings, there are a few sins that can lead to you or your team’s demise if they aren’t rectified. If you see this behavior developing in your buddies, advise them.
Watch for the following:
Captain Ahab Syndrome.
Not only does this TL lead from the front, but he micro manages the team as well; demanding performance instead of fostering it. This sin is deadly. Team members will become reluctant to act swiftly on the TL’s commands because they will have learned to tune him out. If you are a TL, don’t be this guy.
If you are a Team member caught dealing with a TL afflicted with this syndrome, look after yourself, the other Team members, and when opportunity presents itself, lodge a complaint up your chain of command.
I am the TL and I AM FIRST!!!
There is no better way to get fragged or destroy a great Team than to have a TL put his needs ahead of the other operators. The resentment of this type of sin becomes immediately apparent amongst the team and catches like wildfire. Life’s hard enough in the field, but watching a leader take advantages other members cannot is dark territory.
A TL arrogant enough to think this is the path to leadership will find himself all alone at the moment of truth when the enemy attacks. Noone will sally forth to save a guy who’s selfish.
Some TL’s will be furious over failures and mistakes and hold grudges and want to settle scores or embarrass Team members amongst their peers. It’s childish, but human.
A TL engaged in this type of behavior will find a knife in his back sooner or later for indulging in this sin. TL’s need to coach, counsel, re-train, and avoid settling disputes personally, or suffer ill results.
Lazy with Planning and Instruction
Sometimes a TL will engage in time mismanagement that leads to serious disorganization and dysfunction amongst the team due to lack of direction and solid leadership.
A lazy TL puts everything at risk. You’ll come up short in the field, never have your team’s equipment inspected and develop some really bad habits that will be hard to turn around. If you’re a TL verging on this sin, get your shit straight, refocus, and take care of business.
I Follow Orders to a ‘T’, don’t Worry about the Consequences
Yeah, you know the TL that sins by sticking too close to the mission orders and not the spirit of the mission. Working in the red zone takes creative thinking and pushing the margins.
A TL that follows mission orders word per word will make everyone pay when things play out outside the terms laid out in the mission statement. If you are a TL that can’t play in the margins, find Another job. Hell, get into Ops and be a yes man!
Never Admitting Inexperience or Asking for help
The know it all TL becomes immediately obvious, but usually never changes until it costs the team something for him to learn from. I HATE know-it-all TLs that are all talk and no substance.
This sin is one of the most dangerous. This behavior is all about protecting an ego and jeopardizes operators and the mission alike.
If you are strapped with this type of TL, be forewarned. When the SHTF, and you’re looking for direction, the TL will be mute or nowhere to be seen. Leadership can only take place if you know what you are doing.
If you are a TL, wise up and learn from the operators around you, become proficient or skilled where you are weak, and make your leadership a bulwark others can rely on.
These are just a few sins that you might encounter. Unfortunately, I have seen each of these play out in the field at least once.
~Bubba G Editor at Large
Bubba G. is an active protective professional presently performing contract duties in the Middle East and has well over 15 years of military, high risk contracting, international training and martial arts experience.