Bridge on the River Kwai Essay

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Leadership Styles

Leadership Perceptions from "The Bridge on the River Kwai"


Defining and understanding the different types of leadership is necessary for this article. Leadership could be defined as the art of making a person do something that needed to be done by you, because he has the ability and urge to do it. There are many Leadership Styles including the following; authoritarian leadership also known as autocratic, is a style where the leader makes the decisions and the group under him has no authority making the leader dictatorial. The next style is the democratic one, where a leader is ready to listen to the team and involve them in the making of decisions. The leader is always ready to take opinions from the team members, and then later instruct them on the best alternatives.

Laissez-faire style occurs when the leader hardly rules the team, but in the contrary, leaves the group to make decisions, and the leader's decisions are not directly influencing the group's affairs. Decisions are, therefore, coming from the group and not the leader as is the case in the other leadership styles. Transformational style is a model where both the subordinates and leader lead their way to motivation and moral maturity.

The Bridge on the River Kwai

The Bridge on the River Kwai, is one of the best films in the 1950's, and obviously the best in 1957, when it won seven awards after numerous nominations. When the film begins, there are symbolically done images of a lone hawk that soars in the air, representing joyous moments of freedom, then followed with shots of graveyards all covered with crosses that are crudely placed, to indicate the outcomes and consequences of war. Guinness, who was acting as Colonel Nicholson, together with his subordinates comprising of soldiers of British origin, march towards a camp whistling Colonel Boggie March in uniform. As they move ahead, William Holden who plays the part of Shears, the American Commander of the Navy, together with another man are digging graves and rearing that the incoming prisoners might be frightened by the site of graves. Just from this, a conclusion may be made, after Colonel Nicholson shows attributes of an authoritarian leader, who likes his orders followed.

Shears, who is just a commander, displays leadership features of minding about his subordinates and their feelings. However, it is still too early to judge Shears as per his leadership attributes. As he reads the honest eulogy of the dead soldier, Shears shows the power he has, of saying the truth about his people regardless of the company he is.

Because of the brutality faced by the prisoners, shears approaches Nicholson asking for any chance of hopeful escape from the camp. Shears believed in democratic means of live, that are not characterized by violations they experienced every day. Nicholson has a contradicting opinion however, when he views escape to be against the law, displaying his way of leading that is dictatorial to an extent. He says that without law, there is no civilization, and that the issue of escape should not even be given a chance. Regardless of the situation which places Nicholson to be a slave of war, the Colonel still sees himself as a conqueror, and better than his opponents intellectually and morally. This is a weakness in leadership, as he is not serving the people, but prioritizing his interests. Shears replies to his in a negative way, as he sees himself as a slave and not a soldier, showing a weakness he already owned.

Nicholson, even after getting orders from above (in… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Essay:

APA Format

Bridge on the River Kwai.  (2012, December 15).  Retrieved January 21, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Bridge on the River Kwai."  15 December 2012.  Web.  21 January 2020. <>.

Chicago Format

"Bridge on the River Kwai."  December 15, 2012.  Accessed January 21, 2020.