Lesson # 6 from Starship Troopers

Today, we’re going to cover the sixth lesson I learned from the book Starship Troopers.  This is the sixth lesson in the mini-series.  If you haven’t read the previous post yet, please do so right now and try to follow it in order.

Lesson # 6: Leaders must be confident and poised in combat.

Quote: “They wait for the sure voice of command – while seconds trick away –  and it’s up to you to be that voice, make decisions, give the right orders … and not only the right ones, but in a calm, unworried tone.” … a strange voice with panic in it can turn the best combat team in the Galaxy into leaderless, lawless, fear-crazed mob.”

My Take: This is somewhat similar to a previous lesson we talked about in this mini-series.  As a leader, it’s your job to make decisions.  When making these decisions, you need to weigh the factors, analyze the situation and information that you do have, and then issue your orders is a calm, cool and collected manner.  How you say something (your orders) is just as important as what you say.

starship troopers bookAnd sometimes, a bad decision today is better than a perfect decision tomorrow.  But the worst thing you can do is NOT make a decision at all.  Unfortunately, many military leaders are scared to make decisions for a variety of different reasons. But good leaders aren’t scared to make a decision, especially when it counts. 

In combat, there will be times when you have to make a decision when you don’t know what to do, when you don’t have all the information, and where you could potentially get one or more of your Soldiers killed.  This comes with being a leader and it’s your job to make the best decisions that you can AND to issue those decisions as orders in a CALM, CONFIDENT and POISED way.  Once again, how you say something is just as important as what you say.

Soldiers look up to their leaders to lead them.  When shit hits the fan, the leader must be at their best, not their worst.  A confident, poised leader can make a bad situation not seem so bad after all.  And a worried leader can turn a minor situation into something chaotic.

What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below and let me know.

9 thoughts on “Lesson # 6 from Starship Troopers”

  1. Faith A. Coleman

    It sounds like being a parent. I guess in a sense the leaders in the Army are alot like parents. When I’m counseling parents about how to discipline one of the first things they have to do is calm down and control their own voices when the situation and the kids are getting more out of control. Followers have to respect their leader, even when they don’t agree or share the vision. Eventually they’ll come around, changing their vision to that of the leader. I have to thank you for triggering my memory of Maxwell’s work, I’ve got the book right here and want to reread it. I’m sure he’d appreciate how you’ve put his work to use, especially because its serving the armed services.

  2. This reminds me of some of the advice you gave in a previous article, specifically when it comes to making a decision commit to it and move on. That goes for delivering the message of that decision as well – commit and speak with confidence because people are relying on you to bolster their spirit when times are tense or uncertain. There’s no time for doubt or worry once a choice has been made. Stick to it and move forward!

  3. Daniel Slone

    As the old saying goes, “Do something, even if it’s wrong.” In the heat of combat, doing nothing surrenders initiative to the enemy–not the greatest idea. This doesn’t mean “charging in like Rambo without a jockstrap” (to quote Jamie Lee Curtis), but you don’t have the luxury of waiting until you have “all” the information. Sometimes you have to analyze what you’ve got and make the best decision you can based on that and your experience.

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