Transformational Leadership at the Movies
Transactional Leadership is aligned with more traditional “management” activities and is, generally speaking, a less effective style of leading others. According to the model, Laissez-faire (LF) leadership is inactive and the most ineffective approach to leadership. Management-by-exception (MBE) is more active than Laissez-faire, but is still a reactive and generally an ineffective approach to obtaining results from subordinates. Contingent reward (CR) can be a positive approach to leadership but likely will not attain results above and beyond the contingent agreement between leader and subordinate.
Transformational leadership is defined by individualized consideration (IC), intellectual stimulation (IS), inspirational motivation (IM), and idealized influence (II). These factors, along with contingent reward (a transactional factor), have been shown to improve subordinate productivity, increase morale, foster organizational effectiveness and lower absenteeism.
The following films feature characters that have attributes in line with Transformational Leadership.
- Laissez-faire – In this form of leadership, the leader ignores responsibilities and avoids making decisions. Judge and Bono (2000) define Laissez-faire as “non-leadership. It is defined by avoiding leadership duties and responsibilities. Laissez-faire is the failure of both transformational and transactional leadership. Bass (1997) suggests that these leaders “are absent when needed, fail to follow up requests for assistance, and resist expressing their views on important issues.” This style of leadership can be confused at times with “empowerment.”
- Management-by-exception (active) – Is a form of leadership which watches and searches for deviations from the rules and standards and takes corrective action when followers are not acting correctly; “they enforce the rules to avoid mistakes” (Bass, 1997).
- Office Space, Swimming with Sharks, The Breakfast Club, Footloose, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, Cinderella, The Office (Pilot/Diversity), Patton, Platoon, Hamburger Hill, Casualties of War, Saving Private Ryan, Shawshank Redemption, A Few Good Men, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Office Space, North Country, Silkwood and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants
- Management-by-exception (passive) – Is a form of leadership in which the leader intervenes only if standards are not met and only take action after rules have been broken or mistakes are “brought to their attention.”
- Contingent Reward – Contingent Reward contracts exchange of rewards for effort, promises rewards for good performance, recognizes accomplishments. Judge and Bono (2000) suggest that “Contingent Reward is defined as providing an adequate exchange of valued resources for followers support. Contingent Reward is the most active form of transactional leadership but is less active than transformational leadership, because one can engage in contingent reward without every being closely engaged with followers.” According to Bass (1997) “leaders clarify expectations, exchange promises and resources for support of the leaders, arrange mutually satisfactory agreements, negotiate for resources, exchange assistance for effort, and provide commendations for successful follower performance.”
- Individualized Consideration – leaders pay close attention to the needs of followers – coaching them through situations and issues and developing followers along the way. Further transformational leaders listen, learn and develop not only their own ways of thinking but those around them. According to Northouse (2001), “This factor is representative of leader who provides a supportive climate in which they listen carefully to the individual needs of followers. Leaders act as coaches and advisors while trying to assist individuals in becoming fully actualized. These leaders may use delegation as a means to help followers grow though personal challenges.” A leader modeling individualized consideration will spend time learning about the specific motivations, hopes and dreams of each individual.
- Intellectual stimulation – Intellectual Stimulation involves followers in developing new and different solutions to common problems and conducting work in new ways. Leaders challenge the process and confront old and outdated assumptions, traditions and processes. Further, they involve others in the discussion and stimulate new ways of thinking. According to Northouse (2001), “This is leadership that stimulates followers to be creative and innovative, and to challenge their own beliefs and values as well as those of the leader and the organization. This type of leadership supports followers as they try new approaches and develop innovative ways of dealing with organizational issues. It promotes followers’ thinking things out on their own and engaging in careful problem solving.”
- Inspirational motivation – The Inspirational Motivation dimension is produced through behaviors that facilitate a feeling of optimism and a commitment to organizational goals and vision. Further, inspirational motivation provides meaning to the work of followers. A leader’s charisma, “a process where leaders arouse followers by being visionary, motivational and powerful, confident and captivating to followers” is the sum of inspirational motivation and idealized influence. Leaders who display charismatic leadership are able to use expressive language that is emotionally appealing and communicate a clear vision that is related to the need and values of the followers.” (Kelloway et al., 2003).
- Idealized influence – According to Tracey & Hinkin (1998) Idealized Influence is described as “behavior that results in follower admiration, respect and trust. Idealized Influence involves risk sharing on the part of leaders, a consideration of follower needs over personal needs and ethical and moral conduct.” Kelloway et al. (2003) adds that Idealized Influence is manifested when leaders act in a consistent way and are seen as dependable by those who follow. Additional aspects of Idealized Influence are noted by Bass (1997) when he states, “Leaders display conviction; emphasize trust; take stands on different issues; present their most important values; emphasize the importance of purpose, commitment and ethical consequences of decision making. Such leaders are admired as role models in generating pride, loyalty, confidence, and alignment around a shared purpose.”
- Dead Poets Society, Kundun, Gandhi, Shawshank Redemption, Mad Hot Ballroom, School of Rock, Glory, Jerry Maguire, Miracle, Life is Beautiful, Braveheart, Finding Neverland, Forrest Gump, 8 Mile, Primary Colors, Joel Barker on Vision, Born into Brothels, Twelve Angry Men, Spiderman, The Passion of Christ, The Karate Kid, Star Wars IV, Jesus Christ Superstar, The Lion King and Glory