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The Leadership Moment – Wagner Dodge & Mann Gulch

Wagner Dodge was a fire fighter in Montana who led a team of 15. They were responsible for putting out prairie fires. His team would fly over the area in a plane and parachute into the midst of these fires. This chapter looks at a particular situation in which Wagner and his team were caught off guard.

They had parachuted into Mann Gulch and soon realized that the fire was much more aggressive than anticipated. The story looks at how a wall of flame quickly approached the team and shut them off from all known routes of escape. Just when Wagner was about to be overrun by this flame wall, he had an idea. He lit a match and threw it directly in front of him. The match quickly lit up the prairie around

it and a circle of flame began to expand. Wagner then jumped over the outer limits of the circle, ran to

the middle where the match had landed and ducked for cover. His hope was that the flame wall would go around the burn circle and spare him from being scorched.

Wagner's innovation did end up keeping him from being consumed by the fire however many of his men did not follow his lead. Of the 15 men under him, only 2 made it out with their lives. Where was the failure? Why didn't his men follow him?

A quote from Micheal Useem's “The Leadership Moment” chapter 2:

“If you have difficult decisions to make and insufficient time to explain them, a key to implementation may be loyal allies who are sure to execute them through thick or thin”

The key lesson I took from this chapter:

create trust as soon as possible, explain your decisions and be transparent so that when a difficult decision arises, your team will support you

explain your decisions and be transparent so that when a difficult decision arises, your team will
explain your decisions and be transparent so that when a difficult decision arises, your team will

12/24/2010