Leadership in Survival

When disaster strikes and your group has to prepare for the worst, it is important to have an effective leader. Everyone has a role to play in the survival efforts, and every group needs a leader to step up so the group can survive. Uniting a group is not easy though and there are several challenges a leader needs to be aware of.

“We survive by pulling together, not apart.” - Rick Grimes,  AMC’s The Walking Dead

Multicultural group of people looking at a map with landscape background

Here are some tips on setting up leadership in a survival situation.

Selecting a Leader

Choosing the leader of your group can be a difficult process. The key to survival is having a leader who will point you in the right direction. Sometimes, there can be several leaders in a group, but the most important thing is that there is a leader.

When trying to decide who should lead the group, here are some traits to look for:

  1. Good communicator  
  2. Motivator
  3. Decision maker
  4. Organizer
  5. Problem solver

Considering Leadership Styles

In addition to looking at leadership traits, it’s important to consider leadership styles. There are several studies showing that there are different types of leadership styles, and each are useful for different situations. The most common styles of leadership are:

  • Visionary: Visionaries have a clear goal and vision for the group and works to mobilize people toward that vision.
  • Coaching: This style usually leads by striving to build up the group toward long-term strength and survival.
  • Affiliative: This style is all about creating strong emotional bonds and harmony within the group. These leaders are great at conflict resolution.
  • Democratic: Building consensus and group participation is the strength of this style. Leaders should use democratic styles when making big decision like moving the group to a new location or adapting group rules.
  • Pacesetting: Pacesetters expect excellence and are dedicated to getting quick results. They lead by example and expect others to match up.
  • Commanding: This style commands immediate compliance. They take charge during crisis and emergencies and can act quickly.

A great leader can incorporate several of these styles and use each style when they are most needed. A leader should look at these styles as tools to improve the efficiency of his group, and not personality traits that they’re born with. A good leader will need to learn to do it all.

Setting Up a System

Once you have your leader, it’s important to set up a good system of leadership. Whether your leader decides the rules or your group votes, it is important to know what the rules are. Establish a protocol in the event that someone breaks a rule. Setting up a system with rules and consequences will ensure that there will still be order even when the rest of the world is going crazy.

Every group needs a code to live by, and it is up to the leaders of a group to decide what that is for the group.


Multicultural group of people in a circle putting their hands in over a picnic table

Tips for Leaders

Leaders might need a little extra help to do their job. Helping to govern a group of people is no easy task. Leaders should always try to lead by example. Never ask anyone to do something you wouldn’t do yourself. Your humility goes a long way to gain respect amongst followers.

Another valuable asset for a leader is good communication skills. Knowing your group well and communicating is vital to survival.

In addition to having good communication, being able to delegate properly and inspire your team to work efficiently is key. Find wise members of your group to be mentors or advisors for you. Leaders can be more successful when other members of the group offer their strengths.

Expect the Worst

In any disaster situation, it is always safer to plan for the absolute worst scenario. No matter how much you plan and prepare for survival, assume that everything will go wrong. As a leader or a group member, be on your toes and know that everything might not go as you expect.

Leaders may have to make tough decisions in order to save the group, so they should expect danger to be around every corner and even from within their own group. Always plan for the worst but hope for the best.

But never give up! Hope is the most valuable resource a group can have to stay alive. Check out Prepper's Base for more prepping tips and resources like this one!