Leadership: Turning a Group into a Unit – Survival Prepper

Leadership: Turning a Group into a Unit

As a prepper, you have to understand that you are a leader. It doesn’t matter if you’re old or young or if you’re surrounded by family or strangers, YOU are the one who has the knowledge and responsibility to guide others. Truthfully, being a leader is a hundred times harder than being a loner. You might be able to survive on your own for months, but not everyone can. You might be able to walk all day without rest, but not everyone has the same stamina. If you want to be a real leader, you will need to turn your group into a unit.

Before you can jump into the mechanics, you should ask yourself why are you doing this? Is this about power or do you really believe that these people need your guidance? Also, is there anyone else who would do a better job? Most of the time, the best leaders are not the top guy, but the people who support the organization with little to no recognition. If you are after power, then this is not for you. If you are trying to promote the well-being of those around you, then you have the most important quality of a great leader: self-less service.

—The best leaders are not the top guy, but the people who support the organization with little to no recognition.

Leadership is contingent on respect. You are likely already a subject-matter-expert, but often that is not enough. You have to show a work ethic above and beyond the average person. When your group constantly sees you doing extra, taking less, and overall sacrificing in order to help them, they will develop a deep sense of loyalty. This loyalty is what will bind your group to you. Much of the training required to turn a group into a unit is rigorous and if there is no respect, then it won’t take long before people stop listening.

The first element that you will want to introduce is structure. Create a schedule or set time in which your group will train and make sure that it does not deviate. The consistency will show others how serious you treat this subject, and though some people will likely try to skip, it will become easier to see who is dedicated based off of their attendance.

During your first few training events, try to incorporate some sort of physical exercise. In addition to preparing the body for extreme conditions, group conditioning can bring people together. The shared hardship helps create a bond and is one of the primary reasons why military members get so close.


—Hardship is a fire to steel the soul.

The initial training events should never be focused on the individual. The goal is to change their mindset from, “me,” to, “we.” If all of the punishments and rewards are focused on the overall effort and performance, it will subtlely teach the mindset needed to operate as an effective unit, rather than a bunch of individuals.

After the group has demonstrated the willingness to work together, introduce small unit tactics in the form of squad and team movements. This post from The Balance gets more in depth to how to organize a new unit, though you should focus on communication through hand and arm signals and tactical movement.

Once your unit has the basics, it is time to integrate real tactics. The U.S. Army has a list of 8 Battle Drills that are a great way to train a small unit in tactical fighting. Though it will likely only take a couple practice runs to understand the gist of each battle drill, your unit needs to run through them hundreds of times. This creates the muscle memory that will take over when rounds start flying. With constant training, you will lessen the chances of your group hesitating and you will be far more effective. If the only direction you give is, “Battle Drill 1A!” and everyone else executes perfectly, then you did your job at training your unit.

Once your team can handle all of the battle drills without hardship, you have transitioned your group to be on tier with many formal militaries. The next step is to begin combining your training into advanced scenarios. During the middle of a squad attack, switch the exercise into knocking out a bunker. Split your unit into two separate elements and play war games with each other.

While training battle drills great for forming a basis, nothing can compare to real world experience. By using resources like airsoft and paintball, you can train as close to the real thing as possible. Incorporate these elements into a SHTF scenario and you will be able to test readiness. If it turns out that you have problems staying quiet while walking through the woods, you can use this information to set up future training. Refining your unit is an ongoing process, though the basics should never be ignored.

Turning a group into a unit is not an easy task. The hardest part will be initially earning their respect and their willingness to put everything they have into the unit. Once you have a solid core, it will be easy to introduce new members because they will try harder to conform to your group’s social norms.

My name is Steven Capps, and I have a B.A. in English from the American Military University. My writing has been featured in Fiction, The Bird & Dog, Survival Sullivan, The Cass County Star Gazette, and many others. I currently serve as an Infantry Sergeant in the U.S. Army National Guard.