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‘Shoot’ your way out of a jam

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in Best-Practices Leadership,Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

Robert Hopkins, a pilot and photographer during World War II, could have settled for being one of many photographers assigned in 1945 to the Yalta conference in the Crimea, where the three main Allied leaders would shape the postwar world.

Instead, being crowded out of prime shots by some 30 Russian photographers led the young Hopkins to assert his leadership skills.

Hopkins called a meeting of all the photographers. Using a Russian interpreter, Hopkins framed the issue in three steps:
  1. He pointed out that this was surely the most vital meeting of the war, and that it was their responsibility to record it.

  2. He sketched the problem. So far, all the photographers had done was take pictures of each other’s backs.

  3. He proposed a solution: reducing the number of photographers.
After a discussion, the Russians agreed to cut their contingent to one still photographer and one two-man team of motion-picture cameramen, provided that the Americans did the same. Problem solved.

— Adapted from “How Would You Like to Be Attached to the Red Army?” Robert Hopkins, American Heritage.

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