leadership in two films transformational aristotle Term Paper

Pages: 4 (1322 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: Master's  ·  Topic: Leadership  ·  Written: December 11, 2017

Aristotle pointed out that “ even those who just try to establish what is just and true need the help of rhetoric when they are faced with a public audience,” (Rapp, 2010, p. 1). Understanding human nature as it is, Aristotle also noted the tendency for audiences to act selfishly or disregard the truth to fit their preconceived cognitive schemas. Conformity is a major hindrance to progress in both of these films, and pressure to conform coupled with an unwillingness to change is the inertia that Keating and Davis fight against. “An audience can easily be distracted by factors that do not pertain to the subject at all; sometimes they are receptive to flattery or just try to increase their own advantage,” (Rapp 2010, p. 1). The jurors are distracted by their impatience, by their desire to get the trial over with and go home. Their personal lives are distractions because they have yet to learn how to act unselfishly in the service of the public good. They have yet to learn the value of courage in standing up for justice, or the value of tempering selfish needs with the needs to create a more just society. The students of the Welton Academy are distracted by similarly selfish needs, the fear of undermining the authority figures that have for so long serves as de facto “big man” type leaders in their lives. Transformational leadership theory completely undermines the outmoded concept of “big man” theories of leadership, showing that ordinary people like Keating can lead to deeper and more meaningful societal changes (“Leadership Theories,” n.d.). Both Keating and Davies want to effect deeper and more profound changes than simply accomplishing one specific goal. Rhetoric is the most effective means to achieve their goals of transforming the ways their audiences think, feel, and act.

Term Paper on leadership in two films transformational aristotle Assignment

Transformational leaders are driven by the desire to change society by inspiring individuals to think differently. Creating a paradigm shift is the essence of Transformational leadership, as it is conceptualized in Twelve Angry Men and Dead Poets Society. Both Davies and Keating focus on the underlying factors that motivate human beings to change. Those factors only superficially include self-interest. Davies and Keating know that no transformational leader can truly inspire change by appealing to self-interest. Within the framework of virtue ethics, a transformational leader can only inspire change by appealing to broader ethical goals. As idealistic as it seems, transformational leadership and Aristotelian virtues are grounded in realism (Cawthon, 2001). Aristotle knew that no person can simply change via the application of brute force or through contemplating abstract philosophical concepts. Davies and Keating have to use concrete examples in their rhetorical strategies to appeal to their audiences. They need to use metaphors to ground their goals in personalized consent made meaningful to each member of their respective group. A transformation leader needs to show why something is important, not just what is important. Doing far more than delegating authority, a transformational leader helps other people to dig deep to cultivate the desire to be a better human being.

The fundamental elements of transformational leadership include a moral foundation, ethical values, and the use of rhetoric to appeal to audience higher order needs. Linked also with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, transformational leadership deconstructs human motivation to show that people can be inspired to take action to create a better world. Transformational leaders like Davies and Keating guide individuals and groups to discover their own moral purpose, motivated by higher virtues and ethics, empowered by the knowledge that their actions can have a direct impact on the lives of others.


Cawthon, D.L. (2001). Aristotle on leadership. http://www.stcroixreview.com/archives_nopass/2001-03-Leadership/Aristotle.pdf

Kodish, S. (2006). The paradoxes of leadership. Leadership 2(4): 451-468.

“Leadership Theories,” (n.d.). http://www.leadership-central.com/leadership-theories.html#axzz50vxRbOG1

Lumet, S. (1957). Twelve Angry Men. [Feature Film].

Rapp, C. (2010). Aristotle’s rhetoric. Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/aristotle-rhetoric/#4.3

Weir, P. (1989). Dead Poets Society. [Feature Film] [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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