We had earlier discussed some of the leadership lessons we could learn from snipers.
This is the concluding part to this series.
Even if the movies mostly portray one-man sniper-crews, most real life sniper-missions have at least a two-man sniper team. The second man is called the ‘spotter’. I came across these articles in my research.
“A sniper rifle is also considered a crew-served weapon. Though it only takes one person to fire a sniper rifle, it really takes two soldiers to get the most out of the sniper-rifle weapon system. That's why snipers always work in pairs.” “Some military doctrines describe a third member known as the flanker. His task is to have observed areas not visible to the sniper or spotter and assist with the team's rear security.”
Every one of us needs people who can partner with us to bring out the best in us and our life’s mission. We need spotters and flankers who will help us live to our fullest. Every leader needs a great team to achieve great success. If behind every successful man there is a great woman, and vice versa, then behind every great leader is an outstanding team.
There are two dimensions to a sniper-spotter relationship. In the first, the spotter “…detects, observes, and assigns targets and watches for the results of the shot.” It’s like the spotter serves as an on-field coach and mentor for the sniper. His assignment is to make sure the sniper makes good on every shot fired. We all need mentors and guides in our lives. To grow to the heights of great leadership, it’s almost inevitable that you will need a greater leader to guide you. These men or women see what we see and much more, so they can give us advices and guidelines on how to make the most of our lives and our leadership structure and responsibility. Our mentors do not just give us guidance, they protect us as well. One article I read puts it this way:
“The most important job of the spotter is to protect the shooter and the team. For this task, the spotter shoulders an automatic assault rifle like an M-4 or M-16. Army Ranger Sniper explains why this added firepower is important: "If you're sitting there and you get attacked, a sniper rifle is not real good for fighting your way out."
In the second dimension, the spotter usually is an apprentice of the sniper. He learns the craft during real missions. Just as it is important to have a mentor who guides and pours into you, it is equally important to have someone you are pouring into too. Great men do not die with what they have; they pour into the next generation.
The most important ingredient in this partnership is trust. The sniper must trust that the spotter has his back; you must trust that your relationships have your back. Distrust kills the confidence necessary to conquer territories.
With the help of the spotter, the backbone of the assignment is accuracy. Every variable that might affect the shot must be properly calculated and well adjusted for. The need for accuracy shown in the fact that an estimation of a target distance of 700 meters against 800 will yield a 7.9inch difference in the spot the bullet hits.
We must live as accurately as we can. I am not talking of moral perfection here (who is perfect?); I am talking of a gut-wrenching disgust for compromise. Don’t leave off anything that will add value to your assignment. Do not leave anything to chance. Do a good feasibility study, but don’t let it stop you from taking risks too. In all, be as accurate as you can be. One accurate shot makes more impact than a series of random shots.
In conclusion, the sniper teaches us a great deal about the impact of having a well disciplined life garnished with all the elements we have uncovered above. Just as a sniper is an indispensable part of an army, if you inculcate the values therein, you will attain a height that makes you not just indispensable, but impactful too.
And these are the leadership lessons I have learned from the sniper.