I approach this topic with no claim of answering all potential problems, nor providing all solutions. However, I do believe a thoughtful and careful reading of this will address 90% of problems that occur within a group of patriots. I have had personal experience being in a leadership role for an extremely dysfunctional group with 30+ members and draw much from that experience, as well as my experience in the world of small business and management within that scope. It is also my desire to provoke some thought and hopefully other input from those who have held leadership positions in the workforce, and provide sources for further improving the readership’s skill in creating and maintaining a management structure that will accomplish their goals effectively.
In the interest of full disclosure, I believe in the “hearts and minds” approach. While many do not espouse this view, I believe it is key to the survival of the movement in this rapidly balkanizing and increasingly hostile culture. This is still a culture war and we are unable to swell our ranks through reproduction before a full-blown conflict or cultural revolution sweeps the remnants of Western Culture in the dustbin of history. Therefore the only other option is to convince others to join us. David Kilcullen’s books are excellent on the topic, and I highly recommend Counterinsurgency to get a rudimentary, but useful understanding of how to properly employ this very powerful weapon in 4GW.
Part I: General Organizational Structure of a Small Group
You have four, five, ten people that all agree there is a need for people to come together. I would assume at that point you all agree on the reasons, be it political, economic, religious or cultural concerns about the ski-slope trajectory of the Former United States. Allow me to extend my congratulations on your collectively impressive powers of observation. Realize from the beginning that this fledgling group will not just “fall into place” and things will just “work out.” Thinking such as this is the equivalent to the hopium espoused by the masses that the patriot community prides itself on pointing out. If through reason and a logical thought process you convinced yourself the precipice this country is teetering on, then why would your tribe not demand as thoughtful and reasoned as approach?
- Leadership…the buck stops where?
The first thing that needs to happen is the establishment of some type of governing structure, be that a single person, or a group. Accountability must be built in from the beginning. I am a huge proponent of a leadership committee consisting of three or five people, with a rotating chairman. In my opinion it minimizes the possibility of one person derailing the organization in the future, as well as providing a balance of perspectives. The people who are in leadership need to be your best and brightest. Above all though, it is absolutely essential they put the well being of the organization and its members first. You must have buy in here, there is no substitute. I don’t care how smart and what skills they bring to the table, if they are not invested, then they cannot be effective. Cut them loose, find a use for what skills they have in another part of the organization. You could fill libraries with the books written on leadership, and many have said it better than I could. The point being, you need people with leadership skills more than anything else in this position. I cannot emphasize this enough. You want people that can earn respect from your members, foster trust and be an example for other members to aspire to. I know, blah, blah, blah, you’ve all heard it before. In small business it’s the difference between success and failure, and in this case failure now means an embarrassment to the patriot community, later it means a hole in the ground.
- Power…the uneasy ground between Caligula and impotence.
So you’ve got your three amigos and now you’re ready to rock and roll. Not quite. The Pilgrims were smart enough to write a compact before they ever set foot on Plymouth. Your little merry band needs to have what authority they do and don’t claim established long before anyone else asks the question. It needs to be codified, in plain English, and distributed throughout the group. Change and amend as necessary, until you get needed consent. People will not submit to authority unless they’ve agreed to. The alternative is rule by force and I don’t see that as being particularly effective right now. Uncle Sam takes particular exception to people horning in on his territory. The two poles here are keeping the cats herded, streamlining the decision-making process, and allowing input from people. Believe it or not, input from others keeps the one-dimensional thinking to a minimum and has the secondary effect of promoting confidence in the process. This is a volunteer organization and if people don’t like it, they tend to take their toys and go home. I’ve had much better results allowing employees to have input and even rejecting it, than just declaring how it is. Clearly this cannot be done all the time, and there needs to be no question about who the final call belongs to, but when you can, ask for input. This hearts and minds thing is no joke and it starts in your organization. People need to feel like they matter and their opinions are at least considered. You think it’s stupid and unnecessary coddling? Then you’re not cut out for this. Step down.
The main functions of leadership need to be quality control, internal mediation, articulating goals, and developing a plan to achieve them. At the very least your leadership needs to act as quality control internally, and a barrier between your guys and the crazies that inevitably will come calling. A word of advice, you can afford to lose anyone. I don’t care if it’s the love child of Robert E. Lee and Chesty Puller, if he’s a head case, lose him. That’s not to say treat people as expendable, but it’s your place, your duty, to make those hard calls and cut the arm off to save the body. There are many options out there for dispute resolution. Pick one and be consistent. Make people have faith in the process and guard that buy in like it’s your most precious commodity, because it is. Pick achievable goals and have a plan. Not some fuzzy, esoteric HR mumbo jumbo about rainbows, unicorns and kittens. Concrete 1 year, 3 year, and 5 year plans need to be drawn up and worked toward. You would be surprised what can happen in five years, Google went from a single patent application to a net worth of $52B in that time. Failure to plan is the single greatest downfall of an otherwise functioning business or volunteer organization. Lack of vision means you will slowly bleed talent and finite resources as you ineffectively pursue goals, some which may even be mutually exclusive. I know we’ve all heard it, yet inexplicably only a few actually do it. You should be able to grab anyone in the group and have them articulate exactly what the goal is for the next year and have an idea of how to achieve it. Stasis is an organization’s mortal enemy, if you’re not improving, you are falling behind.
You also need to establish a way to streamline your chain of command in emergencies, ancient Athens got it right in my opinion. One man runs the show and everyone deals with it. Ideally that would be the person with the most operational experience, or at least the one with the most expertise has operational control. Again, this needs to be understood and agreed upon before the shit hits the proverbial fan. The purpose here is to keep people on the same page and have them understand their appropriate roles and responsibilities long before the situation presents itself.
In conclusion, this is nothing but the most rudimentary discussion on the role of leadership. I believe true leadership to be more of an art than a science and your leadership style needs to reflect what your group, as a whole, needs to maintain order and discipline. What I do hope you take away is exactly what kind of role leadership needs to play in a volunteer organization. In the business world it’s the job of the CEO/President and General Manager, in your tribe that same cadre must exist, even if it’s under a different name. People can and do quit. You can and do fire real talent because of incompatibility with the company’s goals or personnel. I’ve tried to outline what I believe the effective scope of a governing body is and flesh out some general guidelines that have worked for me in the private sector. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of planning, consistency, and buy in from your rank and file guys. It’s important to see yourself from the beginning as a steward of other’s confidence and trust. Guard it carefully.