Leadership is one of those elements in survival that rarely gets recognized for its importance. Having a leader is also an inescapable reality when acting as a group. There will always be an “Alpha” male or female in any group, and they will naturally lead (or at least influence) the path of the group. Maybe they’re not qualified to hold such a critical position, but chances are good that they are just playing the role they were born to play. In an emergency, good leadership is more important than ever, and the people in charge must strive to perform at their highest level. History is full of examples of great leaders, and plenty of horrible ones. Understand that there is much more to being a leader than just making a few plans, barking out orders, or trying to keep everyone pacified. If the mantle of leadership falls on your shoulders during a bad situation, emulate the strongest leaders you know. Try to get somebody to volunteer a bottle of aspirin, too. You’re gonna need it.

1. Being a solid leader requires a great deal of thought, planning ahead, and consideration for the best interests of the group and the individuals in it.

2. Remind everybody, often, that they are all on the same “team,” with the same goal: the survival of the whole group.

3. Hold yourself to a higher standard, and lead the group by example. Set and maintain high moral and ethical standards. Don’t ask anyone to do anything that you wouldn’t do.

4. Lay down the law. People will steal, lie and fight—have a group-approved plan ready ahead of time, before these things happen, because they are going to happen under stress. But don’t forget the existing laws of the land, either.

5. Set realistic goals for your group and put the right person in the right job.

6. Be honest and unapologetic. Do the things that must be done. Be open about your actions, and don’t back down or apologize when you’ve made the right decision.

7. Expect all hell to break loose at some point. Hopefully it won’t, but you’ve made a few plans if it does. Have a plan ready for each possible or likely problem that you and your group can imagine.

8. Listen. Pay attention to your group and listen to what they say. Maybe they’re talking nonsense, but give it a listen anyway.

Have you found yourself thrust into a leadership position during a tough situation or emergency? Please tell us your story by leaving a comment.