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October 10, 2012

This video clip is a speech from the movie “Remember the Titans” given by coach Herman Boone.  Boone, in our mind, displays the characteristics of an ideal leader.  He is a transformational leader, meaning he inspires people and enables them to grow morally and in their level of motivation – Boone takes a strong interest in his players, shown by his demand for one player to bring his test scores to him, ensuring that he understands the material and succeeds academically.  He is also a transactional leader as displayed by his clear presentation of the overall team goal (winning) and through his punishments (running a mile for dropping a pass, missing a block, etc.).  This is also an example of coercive power.  Boone demonstrates both formal and personal power as well, portrayed through his aggressive demeanor and his loud voice volume, and his position as head football coach, but also through his ability to overcome racial tensions and integrate the black and white players on his team.

In terms of displaying competencies, Boone exceeds tremendously.  These competencies include emotional and mental intelligence, honesty, integrity, drive and ambition, self-confidence, extraversion and so on.  Although there is no requirement for a person to possess each and every one of these competencies – no “silver bullet” – to be a great leader, Boone seems to have all of these qualities.

In this speech in particular, Boone demonstrates strong use of the managerial grid – a leader’s concern for people balanced with his concern for production – by teaching his players to show respect for one another and keeping the ultimate goal of winning the championship in the forefront, which the team ends up achieving.

When being a leader of a team, or just being a member of a team in general, the first steps in working with a team are critical.  A good leader, such as Coach Boone, will conduct team-building activities in order to have the team members get to know each other better and figure out each other’s strengths and weaknesses.  Boone’s situation is extreme, but his methods include forcing the players to pick roommates of a different race and learn basic information about each other, and having the buses to camp split by offense and defense, rather than by race.

We have had a lot of experience being leaders and being a part of teams.  For example, Evan was the co-captain of his varsity football team in high school, and though obviously he did not have to deal with racial segregation, the fundamentals of being a leader are the same in all situations.  “The main thing I learned through this experience was the fact that when the morale of the team is down and/or we are losing a game, every member of the team looks to you for motivation and to lead the team back.”  In the work environment, this is relatively equivalent to a situation where a team is not being productive or getting work done on time, and the members of the team look to the group leader, manager or boss to figure out the problem and suggest ways to solve it.  However, having a successful team involves all members contributing, so it is more likely for a group to achieve their goals if problems are solved collectively – together – rather than by the leader only.

“Personally, I believe that the most important trait of a leader is his or her ability to relate to his or her team members or co-workers,” Evan comments.  Building interpersonal relationships is one of the keys to being a leader, and all great leaders, bosses, managers, coaches, presidents, etc. all share this characteristic.  A leader who shows personal interest in and respect for his or her employees will gain respect in return, thus creating strong results and achieving goals.


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