Leading In A Disruptive Environment: Military Leadership and Teambuilding
Imagine it’s after midnight, pitch black dark and you’re flying off the Gulf Coast in the back of a blacked-out CH-47 helicopter with seven Special Forces team-mates. The tailgate is down on the chopper and you’re lined up four to a side, in the dark waiting to jump into the ocean. You have a Combat Rubber Raiding Craft (CRRC, a 15’ rubber boat w/ a 55hp engine) loaded with rucksacks and weapons and you’re waiting for a green light to come on and the cast-master to yell, “GO!”
As you look out of the portal to your right, you notice from the light of the moon, that the chopper is traveling too fast and too high for you and your team to safely exit the aircraft. The green light comes on and the cast-master yells, “GO!” What do you do?
As the Team Leader I knew the operational constraints necessary to conduct the operation “safely”. I knew from experience that the current height and speed of the aircraft would surely lead to major injuries or death. When we pushed the boat out of the aircraft, it verified what I thought I knew. I realized I had to do something. In a moment I grabbed the side of the aircraft with my right hand and with my left I flung my arm across the chest of my teammate, simultaneously I yelled over the roar of the helicopter, “NO!”
The cast-master immediately came to me and asked why I refused to exit the chopper. After all, he is overall in charge of the operation and when he says “Go” people are supposed to do as they’re told. I told him the aircraft was flying too high and too fast to safely exit. I told him to tell the pilot we need to be lower and slower and we’d try it again. After two more attempts with the same results, I told them we were not go in tonight. The chopper landed and we exited.
We were standing in a parking lot collecting our gear, when a Marine Staff Sergeant, who was in charge of our safety in the water, came over and asked who had been on the last chopper. I stated we had. He went on to tell us that we were lucky that we didn’t jump that night. While we were supposed to be flying at 10 feet (in height) and 10 knots (forward speed) we were actually flying at 50 feet and 50 knots. We would of all been seriously injured or killed.
Years later, at my retirement ceremony, a soldier who had been on the chopper that night told me, you taught me how to say, “no” and about leadership and team building.
Leading in a disruptive environment requires constant monitoring of the situation at hand, and it requires the courage to makes decisions and solve problems on a moments notice. At Leading Concepts we recreate similar disruptive leadership scenarios in our leadership development programs. Our Ranger Leadership Course is a type of civilian special forces training; an Outward Bound alternative.
Can you lead a team of Rangers?
For more information contact us at: info@LeadingConcepts.com