Army Of One Or A Fireteam?

I vividly remember the old Army slogan: Be all that you can be. The Army slogan then changed to: An Army Of One.

The Army Of One slogan never sat well with me. Sure, it sounds great to someone who wants to be free and on their own. They can be their own army. They can go after the enemy as the Lone Ranger.

Shadows of men at dusk

Photo by Papaioannou Kostas

But is an Army Of One truly effective? One man, going out on his own (other than John Wick or Bryan Mills), is not going to be very effective.

He will run into situations he is poorly suited for. He will look around and find no one to help him. In the end, he will flounder because he was on his own.

I was recently introduced to the term Fireteam at Barn Base Camp. The term resonated with me. It made me realize what the Army Of One slogan was missing.

A Fireteam is the second smallest unit in the Marines.

Fireteams are designed to optimize “bounding overwatch” and “fire and movement” tactical doctrine in combat. They typically consist of four or fewer members, an automatic rifleman, a grenadier, a rifleman, and a designated team leader. (per Wikipedia)

I love the idea of a fireteam. A fireteam isn’t a single man on a mission. A fireteam is a group of men (or women) who are working together.

They each have their own unique skills. One is a rifleman, the other is an automatic rifleman, still another is a grenadier, and, finally, you have the team leader.

Four men. Four unique skills. All working together towards a common cause.

A fireteam is not an Army Of One. A fireteam is a band of brothers.

Are You Creating An Army Of One Or A Fireteam?

When I talk with many struggling leaders, I discover they’ve made a fatal mistake. They’ve taken up the old Army slogan and become an Army Of One.

They believe they can lead an organization without guidance. Without comrades.

They want to mold the organization into their vision and their vision alone. The organization’s path doesn’t have input from anyone else but a single man.

This Army Of One pathology leads many organizations to their doom. They follow one person’s dreams and ideas without the leader gaining input from anyone else.

You have to be careful if you’re leading with this Army Of One mindset. You’re headed for dangerous territory.

I know the Army Of One doesn’t work. Instead, you need to look at creating a Fireteam.

Great leaders surround themselves with men and women who know more than they do. They look for people who have been there, done that. They invite discussion into the creation of an organizations vision and mission.

By creating a Fireteam, you can create a strong leadership organization within your company.

Your Fireteam should consist of:

  • A non-leader team member: Look for someone who has potential. They’re striving to improve and always looking to help out within your organization. Invite them to join your team so you can get input from someone on the ground floor. This non-leader team member could be considered the rifleman of your Fireteam.
  • A team member ready to cover the team: This person is always on the lookout for trouble. They’re ready and willing to go to war but they also want to make sure they’re going in the right direction. This team member would be similar to the automatic rifleman.
  • A team member with plenty of influence: You need someone who can help influence the team you’re leading. This would be the person. They would have great relationships with those in and outside of your tea. Their influence is powerful. They can move mountains because of the trust they engender. Let’s consider this team member your grenadier because of the power he wields.
  • A Squad Leader (that’s you!): Last, but not least, your Fireteam will need to have a squad leader. In most cases, the squad leader will be you. As the squad leader, you will be the one who helps guide and support your team. You will encourage them and build them up.

Question: What do you want to build? An army of one or a fireteam? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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