Editor’s note: This article was written by Frumentarius, a former Navy SEAL officer, CIA case officer, and currently a Lieutenant in a career fire department in the Midwest. It was originally published on Sandboxx.com. Make sure to follow them on Facebook.

Whether you are a light infantry platoonhttps://www.sandboxx.us/blog/ 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).

Now, this guidance presumes a level of training and preparation on the back end. I am assuming that you have effectively trained and prepared a competent unit. It will be hard to overcome deficiencies in training, gear, equipment, or knowledge of TTPs and operating guidelines. Those things must be drilled into the unit long before the time comes to operate.  However, assuming you have fulfilled that fundamental leadership requirement, once you are given the “GO,” you need only do these below five things to increase your odds of mission success.

1. Maintain Accountability

Your most important responsibility is to those under your command. You need to make sure they get the job done, sure, but you also need to make sure they go home. Accounting for all your people during any operation, incident, or mission should always be in the front of your mind. Know where everyone is at all times, what task they have been assigned, and what their needs are. They might not always tell you they need help, or a certain piece of gear, or guidance, but it is your job to recognize it when they do. At the end of the day, everyone goes home. That’s your goal.

NASA astronaut candidates Jasmin Moghbeli and Frank Rubio discuss their next plan of action while fellow astronaut candidates and their instructor study their topographical maps during wilderness survival training at the Navy’s Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape School in Brunswick, Maine, May 30, 2018. Former Navy SEAL and NASA astronaut Johnny Kim is on the far left.

2. Formulate the Operational Plan