CIVILIAN CONTRACTORS: The Team Leader’s Mental Edge


Have the mental edge to lead your own band of brothers

Team Leaders (TLs), let’s talk about the things that will make or break your mission or team.

The Red Zone is not a day on the flat range, or a lecture in an air conditioned class room. It’s a crucible that spits you out at the end with lessons learned, losses counted, and battles fought.

You need every edge you can get so when the mission boredom turns into something else and you compress your OODA Loop and get the job done.

Here’s a short list of observations and thoughts to help sharpen your mental edge and keep you and your Team of operators and keep you both from slipping off a cliff:

A Sharp Mind Dedicated to the Mission.

This takes focus on the TLs part. I guarantee you the organizational leadership found in the PMC business will push your mission tempo past what’s healthy so it’s up to you to keep your team wired for business. Get rest when you can, coach when called for, and lead by example. A sharp mind looks at the processes the team goes through in a mission cycle and manipulates the aspects he can for success and operational accomplishment. Get to work identifying what’s flexible and gives you advantage.

Performance Driven.

Identify the skill sets needed by team members, amass and maintain the equipment required, and be efficient and ready. This takes discipline and supervision to steer a team down this road. A TL has to constantly assess his team’s strengths and weaknesses, and sort it out through training and performance review. This is a never ending cycle. You need to build and effective tribe of fighters and thinkers, comfortable with their tools and mission that consistently have their eyes set on the goal. Your performance in the Red Zone is measured in blood and sweat. Drive your men for their own good, temper their efforts with purpose, and when the moment of truth arrives they will perform.

Prepare to endure.

NOTHING in the field goes as planned (unless it’s an ambush you walked in to – it will always be perfect for the bad guys in that case). If your mission calls for three + days on the road or in the bush be mentally and physically equipped for a week or better. A TL has to anticipate the friction that goes along with what seems a simple mission to accomplish, and manage risks and problems through anticipation and prior preparation. Be calculated in advance. Expect to encounter friction.

Develop confidence and trust.

A TL has to get into the minds of each team member and evoke both a fighting spirit and sense of community. It’s not enough to just be a good operator; you must combine individual war fighting skills with membership. A team’s strength is not always its crew served weapons, but often team strength is derived from a shared bond to fight for each other. Inspire this! And confidence and trust will carry the day.

Walk straight with purpose.

Inspire your operators by always being consistent with your mission goals and set the stage they act upon with purpose. This is done by keeping yourself level, never losing sight of what it takes to lead, and by always keeping in your mind that you are the example. You are the rock that will slip off the cliff first or hold steady under stress. All eyes will be on you, so walk the razor’s edge of the red zone with clear purpose and you and your team WILL perform.


~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.