Are you ready for the leadership moment?
Merck's Roy Vagelos commits millions of dollars to develop a drug needed only by people who can't afford it · Eugene Kranz struggles to bring the Apollo 13 astronauts home after an explosion rips through their spacecraft · Arlene Blum organizes the first women's ascent of one of the world's most dangerous mountains · Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain leads his tattered troops into a pivotal Civil War battle at Little Round Top · John Gutfreund loses Salomon Brothers when his inattention to a trading scandal almost topples the Wall Street giant · Clifton Wharton restructures a $50 billion pension system direly out of touch with its customers · Alfredo Cristiani transforms El Salvador's decade-long civil war into a negotiated settlement · Nancy Barry leads Women's World Banking in the fight against Third World poverty · Wagner Dodge faces the decision of a lifetime as a fast-moving forest fire overtakes his firefighting crew
To prove their various points, most books on business leadership focus strictly on either a series of standard, contemporary corporate illustrations or a single nontraditional model (such as a specific historic personality or a classic manuscript such as the Tao Te Ching). But Michael Useem, director of the Center for Leadership at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School, has long used poignant real-life examples of people facing their "moments of truth"--regardless of the setting--to teach students how best to perform under the pressures they will face in the business world. In The Leadership Moment: Nine True Stories of Triumph and Disaster and Their Lessons for Us All, Useem presents some of these surprisingly effective profiles to show how others have responded when push truly comes to shove. Among them are: the story of Roy Vagelos championing an unprofitable drug that ultimately wiped out a debilitating disease in Africa; how flight director Eugene Kranz worked calmly and efficiently to return the endangered Apollo 13 astronauts safely back to Earth; and a look at Arlene Blum's pioneering all-woman ascent of the 26,545-foot Himalayan peak Annapurna in 1978. --Howard Rothman