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Leadership in Movies: 12 Angry Men

Leadership in Movies: 12 Angry Men


Today, frequent watching of leadership movies increases the development of leadership sense, since individuals learn and develop new behaviors related to leadership through modeling of characters and observation. Apart from reading books, individuals can learn through watching movies and television shows. The watching of transformational leadership in the movies increases the ability of an individual to understand this phenomenon.

Movie Summary

Current trial movie tells the story of 12 men making up a jury. It centers around their deliberation on the acquittal or guilt of the defendant based on reasonable doubt. The movie explores the technique of consensus building and the process difficulties about the conflict and interests of 12 men. The identification of the jury members is done by numbers and not names. The witnesses are represented by a woman from across the street and an old man, while the defendant is a boy. In the movie, the defendant is facing accusations of killing his father. While eleven jurors presume him guilty, the eighth juror differs with them, thus forcing a discussion on the case. Everyone, including the witnesses, provides evidence to prove the boy guilty, including the criminal history of the defendant and the purchase of a unique weapon that is a murder weapon. However, the eighth juror still sticks to his determination of swaying the opinion of the other eleven jurors. To overrule the knife evidence, he also provides a similar knife that he occurs to have purchased in the same neighborhood where the defendant bought the murder weapon, hence eliminating the fact that the weapon was unique. The secret ballot votes result in continuous deliberations and the exposure of the different personalities of the jurors, which are arrogance, prejudice and mercilessness, wise, empathetic and bright. The differences in preconceptions, interactions and backgrounds are also clear. Only the eighth juror, who is architecture by profession, advocates for the defendant. His influence appears in his ability to maintain reasonable doubt. Inspiration is evident as he guides the other jurors towards a fair and reasonable verdict by putting aside their assumptions and prejudices (McCambridge, 2003).

Leadership Component of the Movie

The 12 Angry Men portrays a situation whereby the eighth juror sticks with strangers in a single room with the aim of coming up with a verdict that is fair. A jury of 12 people in this movie consists of individuals with different character traits and professional fields. The leadership component emerges with the eighth juror who turns out to be the only one with a not guilty verdict. This juror refuses to give in under pressure and instead chooses to use several unique techniques to convince the other jurors to change their minds. As the jurors settle for a verdict, a guilty verdict would result in a death sentence. The eighth juror, known as Davis, thinks that discussion is important before a verdict is reached (Clemens & Wolff, 1999).

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At the beginning of the movie, Davis uses participative or democratic form of leadership. Here, he initiates a discussion that requires the participation of all other jury members. To apply this, Davis prefers a discussion before the jury brings in a serious verdict to the boy’s life. Instead of supporting an argument, Davis creates a discussion that requires jury members to use reason and facts instead of prejudice and personal opinions. The other leadership component brought out is that of an emergent leader. Davis has no assigned leadership role, but the circumstances at hand forced him to become a leader. The result of this is from his moral standing regarding the murder trial and his desire for justice. His leadership role develops through expertise: persistence and morality that make others see him as a role model. He also turns out to be a transformational leader, which has the characteristics of constant influence, individualized consideration and intellectual stimulation (Clark, 2003).

Development of leadership in the jury had its basis on the different professional fields of the jury members. The different professions in the jury are the supervisor, the banker, the angry man, the baseball player, the bigot and the watchmaker. In this context, the first juror who is also a supervisor takes up the role of keeping the group organized. He turns out to be the designated leader with a democratic leadership style. In the jury, he questions whether everyone agrees with the voting system. In turn, he listens to all jurors and minimizes his personal opinions and comments. The eighth juror introduces the laissez-faire form of leadership. To make this effective, he only points out inconsistencies and leaves to the rest of the jurors to make their decision. He also transforms at a personal level as he develops courage, compassion and confidence (Lumet & Rose, 1957).

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Leadership Traits

One of the leadership traits brought out in the movie is the ability to listen. Even when other jury members become mad and yell, Davis stays calm in the course of the situation as he continues to listen to the other jurors as they raise their arguments. The other trait is that of inquisitiveness and open-mindedness. Davis develops an urge of finding out why the rest of the jurors vote for guilty verdict by demanding for explanations. Persuasion is the other important trait. Here, Davis, the eighth juror, manages to keep the jurors in the room and get their cooperation in handling the issue. He was able to convince them to participate and cooperate in getting a fair verdict, which faces challenges based on prejudice and personal opinions based on individual life experiences (Belasen & Frank, 2008).

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Effective Leader

Juror 8 (Davis) qualifies as an effective leader. It is evident from the different traits he possesses while interacting with the rest of the jury. He possesses communication skills that enable him to be a good listener and at the same time be able to communicate his idea. His effectiveness is also evident in the level of persuasion that he portrays. In the end, he leads the other 11-jury members towards voting for the not guilty verdict. He is also persistent as he refuses to settle for a hung jury verdict with the aim of saving the boy’s life. His patience all through the movie is another clear indication of his effectiveness. Even as others yell and argue, he sits backs and listens to their viewpoint without losing his patience. The leader did exhibit traits that I would like to emulate. To begin with, he is self-controlled as he keeps calm even amidst the opposition and screaming of the other jury members. The other trait is that of determination, which is evident when he refuses to accept the verdict of jury. Instead, he persuades the jury to reason and to come up with a just verdict. His caring trait is another attractive force. In this context, he also thinks about the life of the defendant, which is dependent on the verdict of the twelve.

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Different Leadership Style

Had the leader used a different leadership style, the same result would not have been reached. The transformational and democratic form of leadership was best suited for this context as it allowed participation of all jurors. This way, there is a respect for everyone’s opinions about the matter in discussion. Had the leader used a style like the one of autocratic, then the jury would have ended as a hung jury with no verdict? Autocratic leadership gives leaders the mandate to make decisions without seeking the participations of others. If the eighth jury member had used such tactics, there would have been an endless argument and conflict (Northouse, 2012).