In the intense, high-stress environments U.S. Navy SEALs operate in, good leadership is essential for mission accomplishment and even survival.

Whether you are a light infantry platoon leader in the U.S. Army, a senior enlisted squad leader in the U.S. Marines, or the fire officer in charge of a four-person fire engine in some medium-sized midwestern American city, you have a substantial weight of responsibility proverbially pressing down on your shoulders. Someone, somewhere — for reasons hopefully not unbeknownst to you — has deemed that you are competent enough to lead a small operational unit or element within one of the military branches, a municipal or wildland fire department, or any number of other similar organizations.

If you are at all a conscientious leader, and most that have reached such a position likely ARE to at least some degree, then when the tones drop, or the balloon goes up, or the FRAGO arrives, you immediately start thinking to yourself, “okay, what do we need to do here?” Operating guidelines, rules of engagement, standard operating procedures, or tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) start to crowd into your brain while you simultaneously prepare your individual gear and equipment.

No longer do you have the luxury of being only concerned with performing your individual tasks, although those too remain, but you must also effectively lead this small unit to accomplish whatever mission, task, or operation you have been assigned. Well, fear not. When the time comes to execute, there are really only five fundamental tasks that you as the leader need to accomplish. Do these five things well, and your chances of success go way up (barring other unforeseen circumstances out of your control, of course).