Alamo Leadership Experience Staff Ride

Drawing a Line in the Dirt

How would you respond if you found yourself overwhelmed by your competitor, a larger organization with immense resources, able to match your every maneuver?  What would you do if the success of your organization was on the line and you had to give one final pitch to maintain your team’s commitment and keep them from abandoning the cause?  How do you create a sense of purpose in such a way that people subordinate themselves to the success of the team, willingly aligning with your vision and readily giving 100% to the mission?

These and other themes were on full display at the “Alamo Leadership Experience Staff Ride,” conducted in San Antonio by faculty of the Thayer Leader Development Group (TLDG) at West Point (NY).  The lessons of March 1836 come to life during a powerful half-day session.

Corporate teams have been coming to West Point for several years for TLDG-facilitated discussions of the lessons of the Revolutionary War.  Thousands of leaders from dozens of high-performance teams have leveraged the lessons they learn at West Point (strategy, communication, character, and leadership by walking around, among many others) to become better, more focused, and more engaged leaders back home.  That is the value of the Alamo Leadership Experience Staff Ride: to take the lessons of a historical battlefield and look for application to one’s own leadership journey.  Now, for the first time, TLDG offers a similar leadership experience at The Alamo.

Surrounded by thousands of Mexican soldiers, young Colonel William Barrett Travis, the 26-year old lawyer-turned-leader of the Texans inside the Alamo faced his 189 lightly armed “troops.”  It is there that Travis reportedly drew his sword, traced a line in the dirt, and rallied his team:  “”I now want every man who is determined to stay here and die with me to come across this line.”  All but one man crossed that line, to include the bed-ridden “co-commander,” Jim Bowie, who asked his teammates to carry him to the other side.

So how would you respond?  How do you create willing alignment with a higher purpose?  How do you rally your people to give everything they have and join you in your efforts?  These and other lessons literally come to life at the Alamo.  The Alamo Leadership Experience Staff Ride does not make people experts in history.  Rather, it uses lessons learned on that battlefield to become better, more focused leaders, ready to take high-performance teams to the next level.  Among the key themes at the Alamo are critical lessons such as:

  • Listening to your people and hearing their cries for help
  • Knowing your competitors and understanding their strengths and weaknesses
  • Turning defeats and setbacks into subsequent successes
  • Creating synergy in a team, where ordinary people combine their efforts to do extraordinary things
  • Investing in succession planning so the team can continue the mission no matter what happens (to include the loss of key leaders)
  • Understanding the importance of “Unity of Command” and aligning subordinate teams with the mission and with each other
  • Leadership in times of crisis

When Colonel Travis drew the line with his sword, he undoubtedly took a risk.  Surrounded by a heavily armed enemy, his “troops” could well have left him alone on the other side.  Leadership often requires leaders who stand on principle, who create a compelling vision, and who set the tone for the team, leading with character – from the front.

So what about you and your team?  Could you use an injection of some high impact lessons – Texas style?  If so, then contact us and allow us to introduce you to this amazing leadership experience offered by  Thayer Leader Development Group ( and ask about drawing your own line in the dirt.  Your leaders are sure to, “Remember the Alamo!”