Good Essay About Movie Project: Ineffective Leadership
Movie Title: Men of Honor
Ineffective leadership must be considered along a continuum with effective leadership at the opposite end rather than an objective on or off state. It is important to consider that what is often defined as ineffective, can even create the results for which one is striving. To set the terms of this essay, we will consider that ineffective leadership is leadership that is not aligned with the theories discussed in class, the text or those of respected leaders. Although Schein states that “one could argue that the only real thing of importance that leaders do is to create and manage culture” (1992: 5), in the movie Men of Honor the primary leader, Master Chief Sunday, could be said to have achieved that quite well. He instilled fear and dogged determination through stories and rituals. These myths became truths for the colored men of the navy and they in turn perpetuated the culture.
A pattern of shared values, beliefs and norms was established among the black sailors when they were working in the ship’s galley. One sailor comments, “the only future for a colored man is cook, officer’s valet or fuck-eyed navy” (Men of Honor). Because culture is rooted, it will take resolve to create change, even if it is by one man – Carl Brashear.
Carl grew up a poor black farm boy who was highly influenced by his father and mother. His father demonstrates a commitment and integrity to his word when he is plowing the field with a deadline looming. Carl offers to help, but his father insists on setting higher priorities for him by telling Carl that he must be educated. We must consider the kind of leadership demonstrated by Carl’s father as opposed to the type we see from the Master Chief, later in the movie. This will help us see how Carl was able to influence a cultural change. His father led by example. He demonstrated hard work and resilience even in the face of failure. Most importantly when comparing the two leaders of Carl’s life, there was a soft tenacity to this steadfastness that his father showed. One could argue that Master Chief Sunday displayed similar characteristics; however, they could not describe his nature as soft in any way.
It was Carl’s mother who instilled a confident belief in him when she said, “whatever it will be, it will be big” (Men of Honor), as she saw him off to join the navy. These two brief scenes with his mother and father demonstrate the character from which Carl Brashear would draw upon when affecting change to the ingrained culture of the US Navy. With the kind of ineffective leadership displayed by Master Chief Sunday, the viewer could only assume that it would take Brashear’s strong disposition to stand in the face of autocratic and often belligerent leading by the Chief and other senior officers that are developed in the film.
Most of all, Master Chief Sunday did very little, if anything to encourage the heart of his men. He ranted orders and belittled the sailors by calling them names and telling them that were never going to amount to anything. When we select effective leadership strategies, this is never considered among the criteria for achieving the goals at hand. Effective leaders will still expect the best from their team, but they will offer extrinsic motivation such as rewards or recognition. Or, they will inspire a shared vision by appealing to common ideals among other positive tactics. Tom Peters has said, “Boss: Observe yourself closely over the next 60 minutes. Did you listen more than you talked?” After viewing Master Chief Sunday, we could see on the surface that he did not espouse to Peters mantra. He did not appear to be a listener.
When calculating the basic formula for performance, and the function of motivation, one must consider the source of this motivation. When analyzing leadership the source is believed to be extrinsic, since it is the leader’s actions that set the culture; however it could be argued that the only motivation that exists is intrinsic motivation. Since the individual may be cajoled or enticed, rewarded or encouraged, they still must come to the conclusion that they will engage in the behaviour of performance.
It is through Carl Brashear’s intrinsic motivation that credit must be given for the effective outcomes of the US Navy. He was determined to fulfill his father’s wishes for him to be the best.
Although the articulation of effective leadership would never take into account the use of harsh terms, bigotry, unrealistic challenges with expectations for failure or the kind of behaviour supportive of alcoholism and carousing, it is important to acknowledge that if the term effective were translated into productive accomplishment, then the ineffective leadership of Master Chief Sunday should be given some credit for its effectiveness too. It did not deter Brashear, and some might say that it motivated him by creating the looming atmosphere in which his father had worked.
Men Of Honor. Tillman, George Jr., Dir. Perf. Robert De Niro, Cuba Gooding Jr. 2000.
20th Century Fox. Film.
Peters, Tom. Tom Peters Company. n.d. Web. April 21, 2015.