Within the elite echelons of the Ranger Regiment, where precision and purpose collide, an operational mantra underscores success on the battlefield: “The Big Four” – Shoot, Move, Communicate, and Medicate. Each element, when dissected, is simple in its intent but profound in its implication. Shoot with precision (don’t just hit what you are aiming at; be deadly), move with purpose (be physically fit for any mission or anything you may be asked to do), communicate with clarity (be able to transfer ideas across the battlefield quickly and clearly), and medicate with expertise (be able to treat yourself and your buddy to a very high level in the event of injury). It’s about mastering the fundamentals, about embodying excellence in every action, every step, and every word.
However, as we transition from the tactical terrain of the battlefield to the strategic landscapes of leadership, can we distill leadership into core elements akin to “The Big Four”? Upon deep reflection and practical application, the answer is an affirmative ‘yes.’ Often swamped in the maze of responsibilities and challenges, leaders find themselves grappling with a pivotal question: What is my role as a leader? The infinite number of potential answers can be overwhelming. Yet, it’s possible to crystallize leadership into “The Big Five” – Mission, Vision, Direction, Guidance, and Resources.
1. Mission: At the heart of any endeavor, the mission is the beacon that lights the path. It’s not just about assigning tasks; it’s about instilling purpose. Every team member should know what they’re doing and why they’re doing it. A clear mission creates a sense of purpose, driving motivation and aligning efforts.
2. Vision: Leadership is as much about the future as the present. Leaders need to paint a vivid picture of what success looks like. By defining the destination, you provide a roadmap for your team, allowing them to navigate challenges and recognize success.
3. Direction: Beginning a journey is often the most daunting step. Leaders must be the compass, guiding their team toward the envisioned future. It’s not about micromanaging every step but setting a course that steers clear of pitfalls and capitalizes on opportunities.
4. Guidance: The journey towards achieving a vision is fraught with uncertainties. As a leader, your role is to mentor, to provide timely feedback, and to inspire when the going gets tough. Think of it as coaching a team through the intricacies of a game, ensuring they adapt, evolve, and succeed.
5. Resources: Ideas without resources are mere dreams. Whether it’s time, space, funds, or materials, leaders must equip their teams with the tools they need to translate vision into reality.
Let’s dive into tangible examples for each of the Big 5:
Mission: Imagine launching a new product in a tech company. Rather than simply saying, “We’re launching Product X,” a leader could frame the mission as, “We’re introducing Product X to revolutionize the user experience and meet the unaddressed needs of our customers. We’re doing this to stay ahead of the curve and offer value no one else can.”
Vision: Consider a hospital aiming to be the leading institution in patient care. The leader paints this vision: “In five years, we’ll be the go-to hospital for our medical excellence and our empathetic and holistic approach. When people think of compassionate care, they’ll think of us.”
Direction: Using the backdrop of a startup aiming to enter a saturated market, the leader might say: “Our entry point will be catering to the niches the big players have ignored. We’ll focus on in-depth market research for the first quarter, identifying these gaps and tailoring our product to fill them.”
Guidance: In a software development team facing frequent changes in client requirements, a leader might conduct weekly review sessions. “Every Friday, we’ll review the week’s work, address uncertainties, and adapt our approach. I’ll provide feedback, and we’ll learn from each iteration, ensuring we’re always aligned with the client’s evolving vision.”
Resources: At a school planning a cultural fest, the principal commits: “To make this a success, we’re allocating a special budget for each department’s events. We’ll also make available the auditorium for rehearsals every evening, and I’ll personally coordinate with external trainers and artists to provide the expertise we lack.”
In these examples, the leader sets expectations and provides the rationale, vision, direction, support, and tools necessary for success. Doing so ensures that every team member feels empowered, aligned, and driven toward the collective goal.
Leaders who focus on “The Big Five” are not just directing; they’re empowering. They’re addressing the quintessential elements only they can provide, thus facilitating an environment where success is probable and inevitable. This isn’t just a theoretical framework; it’s a pragmatic approach to leadership that transcends industries and scales. By honing in on these five core principles, leaders position themselves as forward-thinking strategists and inspirational figureheads, shaping the future one decision, one vision, and one mission at a time.
In the intricate dance of leadership, understanding and implementing “The Big Five” is not merely an academic exercise—it’s an imperative for transformative growth. Just as the Rangers uphold their tenets of precision and purpose, leaders across all domains must recognize the power of Mission, Vision, Direction, Guidance, and Resources.
True leadership transcends the mundane and challenges the status quo. It’s about pioneering a path filled with vision, nurturing it with guidance, and furnishing it with the requisite tools. So, let this not be an end but a clarion call to all visionary leaders: Rise to the challenge, anchor your leadership in these timeless principles, and ignite a legacy of excellence that will illuminate generations to come.
J.C. served in the U.S. Army as an infantry officer for 20 years, primarily in special operations and special missions units with more than 11 combat tours. Since retiring from the military, JC has brought his innovative and unconventional thoughts on education, leadership and resiliency into the private sector, consulting with Fortune 500 companies, the NFL, NBA, NCAA and professional sports teams including the Denver Broncos, Carolina Panthers and the Charlotte Hornets.
He holds a Masters Degree from the Naval War College and was a Senior Fellow in the Service Chief’s Fellowship at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
He has earned 3 Bronze Stars, 3 Meritorious Service Medals, a Joint Commendation Medal, and the Order of Saint Maurice. He is a Liberty Fellow, a part of The Aspen Institute and the Aspen Global Leadership Network.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.