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Wagner Dodge Retreats in Mann Gulch - Case Study Example

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The case study “Wagner Dodge Retreats in Mann Gulch” provides interesting insights into these aspects of leadership and how certain situations test the leadership abilities of an individual. Interaction between team members and the team leader plays an important role…
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Wagner Dodge Retreats in Mann Gulch
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Download file to see previous pages Interaction between team members and the team leader plays an important role in assessing existing situations, understanding the need of the time and effective resolution of existing problems. The case study of Wagner Dodge provides interesting insights into these aspects of leadership and how certain situations test the leadership abilities of an individual. Background Wagner Dodge headed a fire fighters team of 15 into Mann Gulch, a remote place in Montana to control a huge fire that had broken out in the prairies region. Dodge was an experienced fire fighter and he was responsible for putting out the prairie fire. The team was flown to the area and parachutes were used to drop them down to the fire affected region. However, on landing in Mann Gulch, the team realized that the fire was more aggressive than they had initially thought. The flames were catching on at great speed and there was no escape route since the radio with one of the team members had broken on landing and the map was lost too. Left with no possibilities of surviving the fire, Wagner lit a fire and let the area burn out before he landed himself in the middle of this fire circle to protect himself from the prairie fire. He signaled him men to follow him but only one of them joined him in the circle of fire. The rest of the team members did not trust his decision and felt that it was crazy to go into the fire circle started by Wagner. Thus, 13 members out of the 15 perished in the prairie fire (Useem, 1998). Wagner Dodge – decision making and leadership The Mann Gulch fire incident raises a number of pertinent questions relating to the team behavior and understanding existing between Wagner Dodge and his team members. Why did they choose not to follow him and how could the team be unaware of the ground realities? The first question strongly raises doubts over the capabilities of Wagner Dodge as a leader and the lack of trust existing between the chief and his team members. His order to his team to stick to the burned area were met with disbelief and anger from most of the team members and each of them decided to escape the fire in their own ways. The results were tragic and there was nothing much that Dodge could do at the moment to convince them his ways. A review of the situation reveals that though Dodge was a good and experienced firefighter, he had very limited success in achieving the trust and confidence of his team members. He failed to articulate his thoughts and plans in an effective manner to the team members. His inability lay in the fact that he did not communicate emergency plans and guidelines that the team members could follow in such situations. The crew was fairly inexperienced or they would have realized the potential escape route offered by Dodge. If Dodge had explained some possibilities and means of surviving such emergencies earlier, probably all 15 could have been saved from the prairie fires (Useem, 1998). Wagner Dodge also failed to communicate the effectiveness of the burnt patch of ground to his team members at the critical hour. This could be associated with lack of time to explain the details to the team members and the inability of the team to grasp in times of the pending crisis. ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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