Wheeler L. Baker

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Wheeler L. Baker was the ninth President of Hargrave Military Academy. A career U.S. Marine, Baker commanded the unit made famous in the TV miniseries Generation Kill, 1st Reconnaissance Battalion, from 1983 to 1985.

Quotes[edit]

To those thirteen-hour-a-day managers who lead people and make decisions.
  • "We consider ourselves the leading military school in the country, and we want to stay there. We adapt to change very well; we recognize different learning styles and we adapt to that. We maintain our standards and use the military model as a way to provide structure in education."
    • Baker's comments in a May 15, 2009 press release from Hargrave Military Academy, celebrating the school's 100th graduation.
  • I was honored to be selected as Hargrave’s ninth president and retire with mixed emotions. Hargrave Military Academy is a special place and clearly under God’s guiding hand.
    • Baker's comment in a June 21, 2011 press release from Hargrave Military Academy, announcing the June 24, 2011 change-of-command ceremony.
Hargrave Military Academy is a special place and clearly under God’s guiding hand.
  • Chairman White, and the other Trustees that are present today, faculty and staff and alumni, distinguished guests, cadets, and friends of Hargrave: It's been a great run. It really has. I look out over the congregation gathered here today, and I see faculty, staff, cadets, parents, members of the Parent Council that we work closely with, other colleagues in the same business- and it makes me reflect on on fifteen years here, what all we've accomplished. I can also state that we wouldn't have accomplished much without the leadership of the Board of Trustees. And I'd like to thank all of the Board that's here- the Chairman, past Chairmen, and other members of the Board- that've A, put their trust in my leadership, put up with me at times, and set the guidance and the tone to keep the school on a straight path. Not an easy task. And the Board has done a magnificent job. I would also be remiss if I didn't recognize- I wish I could recognize every member of our faculty and staff, which is the heart and soul of an independent school. Our faculty is the best- best in the nation- very dedication people, that work constant hours with the cadets here, proven by our great success we've had over the past, what... hundred and- we graduated 102nd class last May. It's been really an honor for me to be part of Hargrave's history. But we're not done. We've completed 102 years, and now we've hired Brigadier General Broome, who's the right person to take the helm at Hargrave. And I am convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that General Broome is ready, willing, and dedicated to take Hargrave to the next level. It's a great school- I would tell you, in my mind, it's the best school in the country, because of the cadets and the folks we have here. I've been spending a lot of time with General Broome and his wife, and they are really gonna be a great fit for Hargrave, and I think Hargrave's gonna have a super next one hundred years. I wish we could all be here a hundred years from now to open our time capsule, but unfortunately, I don't think anybody in this room is gonna see what's in the time capsule... Anyhow, thank you for coming, it's been an honor to be part of this, and I will sincerely miss it. I'm not the type to watch things from the sidelines, but, in this case, I will. Thank you very much.
    • Baker's speech at the change-of-command ceremony in Hargrave's chapel on June 24, 2011.
  • The born leader is a fiction invented by 'born followers'. Leadership is not a gift at birth; it is an award for growing to full moral stature. It is the only prize that a man must win everyday. The prize is the respect of others, earned by the disciplines that generate self-respect.
    • The Cadence (2009), yearbook of Hargrave Military Academy, p. F

Crisis Management: A Model For Managers (1993)[edit]

The born leader is a fiction invented by 'born followers'. Leadership is not a gift at birth; it is an award for growing to full moral stature. It is the only prize that a man must win everyday. The prize is the respect of others, earned by the disciplines that generate self-respect.
  • To those thirteen-hour-a-day managers who lead people and make decisions.
    • Dedication
Control your risks.
Identify important decision points.
Forecast potential crises.
The solution starts as soon as planning begins!
  • On the back cover.
  • The Exxon Corporation was, and is, working hard to take the lead in setting the standard for the environmental clean-up along the 1,200 miles of damaged Alaskan coastline. Yet, despite all their efforts they still hear cries of foul. News articles claim the corporation is falling short of its responsibilities. Video footage of out-of-work fishermen sitting in idle boats carries the depressing message that the fishing industry cannot provide a livelihood for several more years. Exxon has spent billions of dollars related to that tragic oil spill. In spite of their efforts they continue to pay the price in money, damaged reputation, and ill-will.
    • p. 2
  • In 1972, Americans watched in disbelief as the Nixon Presidency was virtually brought to collapse, not because of the Watergate "break-in," but by the cover-up and its entanglements. What if the Watergate Scandal had been handled differently? The illegal activities of a few bungling second-story men pale in comparison to the colossal management blunders by the White House inner circle.
    • p. 3
  • It is natural for government and business leaders to want to make the best of a bad situation. For example, articles on Watergate postulated that we are now better off because the crisis demonstrated the strength of a democracy. Some contend that the Exxon Valdez oil spill had a good side in that there were many "lessons learned". THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! I do not subscribe to the "I have to fail to learn and improve" theory. A set-back leading to "experience and growth" is one thing; total failure is another. Few corporations could sustain as much bad press as Exxon, not to mention the opportunity cost of billions of dollars that could have been applied more profitably elsewhere. An organization's most precious resources are its time, energy (individual and corporate) and capital. They should be directed toward increasing profit, providing better service and improving the organization's reputation. They should not be wasted on damage control. Yet we continue to hear stories of crisis situations that drain organizations of that valuable energy and focus.
    • p. 4-5
  • Poorly managed corporations, disorganized businesses, and badly led service agencies experience crisis daily and most will eventually fail. In contrast, the danger is to well organized, smooth running institutions that may not recognize a building crisis. Too often, sound organizations rely on their normal modus operandi to pull them through a crisis. It might. But at what cost? And what if it does not pull them through?
    • p. 6
  • For almost all of us, recognizing a crisis can be difficult unless we have significant warning, or are prepared before-hand to deal with change. It is also important in an emergency, as it was in Dan's situation, to identify and focus on the actual crisis, not the cause. It is time to "put out the fire" not waste precious time figuring out how the fire started.
    • p. 7
Poorly managed corporations, disorganized businesses, and badly led service agencies experience crisis daily and most will eventually fail. In contrast, the danger is to well organized, smooth running institutions that may not recognize a building crisis. Too often, sound organizations rely on their normal modus operandi to pull them through a crisis. It might. But at what cost? And what if it does not pull them through?
  • Never underestimate change. What seems simple at the top is magnified at lower echelons and is extremely disruptive. It is a festering crisis that needs attention from senior management or else loyalty, efficiency, and productivity will suffer.
    • p. 11
  • Police, federal agency and military operations are fraught with the potential for catastrophic disaster. The nature of operations routinely conducted by counter narcotic agents, special weapons and tactics units, special response teams, and mlitary special operations units leave no room for error. A drug bust in the wrong house or a botched hostage rescue situation will be on the evening news with some senior official hemming and hawing and wishing he'd planned better. Once that occurs there is no defense. The best that can happen is to convince everyone that it will not occur again because of all the "lessons learned, and hope that there is a crisis somewhere else that will take your place in the media's attention. THIS IS A LOSING STRATEGY.
    • p. 12
  • When an individual's or group's basic survival is threatened, stress becomes tremendous, and productivity drops. Under these conditions a manager's ability to reason and maintain a proper focus on developing plans or solutions to a crisis is extremely difficult.
    • p. 14
  • We have all heard the saying "the man with a plan is king." I believe a man without a plan is just a pawn to circumstance and embarking on a losing strategy.
    • p. 16
We have all heard the saying "the man with a plan is king." I believe a man without a plan is just a pawn to circumstance and embarking on a losing strategy.
  • Pressure can also make managers act out of character. Degrees of panic will cause a normally good manager to lose self-confidence and focus. Under stress, even a good plan can be abandoned.
    • p. 16
  • Everyone has attended meetings that resemble a free-for-all: No control, no leadership, no guidance, and yet energy abounds. This is a classic waste of precious time and energy. A high stress meeting characterized by disorder and disjointed introduction of ideas is the final signal that management is not in control and has succumbed to the emotions and pressures of the moment. The end is near.
    • p. 19
  • Not too many years ago a television ad depicted a service station attended selling oil filters. His pitch was, "you can pay me now or you can pay me later." The difference was an eight dollar oil filter or a new engine.
    • p. 19
  • Whether you are big or small, or face a high or low potential for crisis, a day devoted to discussing company business is never wasted.
    • p. 23
  • Leaders and managers do not have to risk lives, profit, or mission failure because they failed to plan for a crisis. Do not allow yourself to be put on the defense by changing circumstances. No one enjoys wasting time, but don't be reluctant to call a meeting just to discuss something that might happen. Remember the oil filter theory. Rather than disobey your instincts and proceed with the status quo or embark on a risky course, invest some planning time in your business. Control your risks. Identify important decision points. Forecast potential crisis. Apply the six hour model. A little time spent discussing your business is never wasted.
    • p. 74
  • There is absolutely no reason the command group can not pick the five most probable contingencies or missions that your unit could be called on to execute today. Identify those missions and then schedule a crisis planning session for each mission. The training and preparation value of doing this is tremendous.
    • p. 76
Two a.m. in a dark alley or on a mountainside is not the time to discover your unit is missing a key piece of equipment, or that you are not sure of the radio frequencies of an adjacent unit.
  • Two a.m. in a dark alley or on a mountainside is not the time to discover your unit is missing a key piece of equipment, or that you are not sure of the radio frequencies of an adjacent unit. The procedural check lists created in training will prevent those critical and unacceptable mistakes. This is the time to benefit from those "lessons learned". But leaders must schedule the time to train, do it right, critique, and move on. It is an investment that will bring the most return.
    • p. 76
Leaders must schedule the time to train, do it right, critique, and move on. It is an investment that will bring the most return.
  • Plan in the real world.
    • p. 77
Plan in the real world.

Quotes about Baker[edit]

  • Wheeler Baker has spent many years studying management and decision making. He holds graduate degrees in International Affairs, Management, and National Security and Strategic Studies. His academic accomplishments are complemented by extensive experience in teaching and implementing crisis management techniques with military special operations organizations. These units are trained to respond to events that arise unexpectedly; events characterized by their complexity and demand for rapid solution. Of note, on short notice he planned and led the military side of the security for the presidential Drug Summit in Cartagena, Columbia, utilizing these same procedures. In the business world, he has assisted several senior corporate executives, federal agency supervisors and small business owners in developing solutions to complex problems. They have ranged from improving security at the nation's nuclear sites to critical examination of a business's ability to expand its market. Additionally, he has applied these management techniques in preparing for short notice ambassador level negotiations internationally. At the other end of the spectrum, he has assisted social workers in structuring their sensitive work with severe emotional family problems.
    • About the Author, Crisis Management: A Model for Managers (1993)
  • In our class were Capts Wheeler Baker, Wayne Rollins, and Dan Smith, who were fellow DIs in 1962-1964. Sitting around the lunch table one day, Wayne commented, "Can you believe this? Ten years ago the four of us were dumb-ass Cpls and today we're all dumb-ass captains."
    • Colonel Jim Bathhurst, USMC, Ret., in We'll All Die As Marines: One Marine's Journey From Private to Colonel (2012), p. 347.
  • My sincere thanks for your outstanding assistance with security, logistics, and communications during my visit to Columbia.
    • George H.W. Bush, referring to the multi-national drug summit at Cartagena, Columbia, in February 1990. As quoted on the back cover of Crisis Management: A Model for Managers (1993) by Wheeler L. Baker.
  • Over the years many of the faculty and staff of Hargrave Military Academy have played vital roles in the lives of cadets. Cadets tend to attach themselves to a certain staff member in whom they confide, seek advice from and go to for guidance. These people become role models for the cadets and often find themselves that cadet's "go to" person in times of need. None are more effective than the Bakers at giving advice, being role models, or being that "go to" person. Col. Baker is a retired Marine Corps Colonel who rose through the ranks to command a Marine Expeditionary Unit, a Battalion, and much more. Dr. Baker has worked as a nurse, worked with animals and traveled around the world. Both have brought a lot of experience to HMA. All cadets agree that the Bakers are what the Hargrave faculty and staff should strive to be. Most cadets have spent time in the Guidance Office talking to Dr. Baker about something that they are having trouble with in their lives, or just eating candy out of her jar. Walking around campus, cadets will often run into Col. Baker, the President of the school, and are always greeted with a smile and a pat on the back. Very few people are as legitimately concerned about how your day is going than Col. Baker. And if you are having trouble, he will do anything in his power to help you. No matter what your trouble may be, the Bakers are always there to help you, and they always care. They are the mother and father figures of Hargrave.
    • Description of Baker and his wife Lynn in The Cadence (2009), yearbook of Hargrave Military Academy, p. F
  • The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sympathy, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.
    • Dr. Lynn Baker, regarding herself and her husband, in The Cadence (2009), yearbook of Hargrave Military Academy, p. D
  • Dr. Baker served Hargrave for close to 15 years. After stabilizing the Academy financially, he tackled several differed maintenance issues while simultaneously improving the academic curricula. New classroom space was built, technology was introduced into the classroom and improvements were made to the quality of Cadet life across the board. Most importantly, he has been a true leader and caretaker of Hargrave Military Academy in both good and turbulent times, leaving the school far stronger and in a far better position to take advantage of future opportunities. Dr. Baker leaves Hargrave in an excellent position for his successor.
    • Hargrave Military Academy press release on June 21, 2011, announcing the June 24, 2011 change-of-command ceremony, when Baker formally retired as Hargrave's president.

External links[edit]

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