Creative Writing: Twelve O'Clock High - Leadership

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Twelve O'Clock High - Leadership

Over the last ten years the world has been facing a lack of leadership in many areas. Part of the reason for this is: many people will talk about how important it is to set the example. Yet, when you look at their leadership style and attributes, it is clear that they are saying one thing, while doing another. As result, this lack of leadership has helped exacerbate different scandals that have rocked Corporate America down to its very core. One of the biggest reasons why there is a leadership crisis occurring, is because many leaders / managers have forgotten the core basic values that all great leaders demonstrate. To fully understand these values requires comparing the ideas presented in two timeless classics on leadership principals, the movie Twelve O'Clock High and the book Be Know Do: Leadership the Army Way. Together, this will provide insights and ideas; that will highlight how all leaders can be able to immediately use the different principals to effectively lead any organization.

Twelve O'Clock High and Be Know Do: Leadership the Army Way

The movie Twelve O'Clock High takes place during World War II, with the 918th bomb wing suffering from a lack of motivation. General Frank Savage has the job of turning this unit around, as they men and officers have come to believe that the high command is singling them out, for the most dangerous bombing raids over Germany. This is because their former commander (Colonel Davenport) thinks that everyone is doing the most they can and that the General Staff is asking them for too much. To rectify this situation, Savage will use a number of different techniques to motivate the men, turning them into a capable fighting force. (Clemens, 1999) Despite this movie first being shown in 1948, the different ideas that presented mirror the same ideas highlighted in Be Know Do: Leadership the Army Way. Where, these ideas have been passed down from one generation to the next, highlighting how these principals can be used in a variety of situations to motivate and inspire.

As a result, both have works have identified a number of common attributes that all great leaders must posses the most notable would include one: demonstrating a sense of responsibility. All great leaders have sense of certainty about them. Where, they have the ability to constantly to take the most appropriate course of action that will benefit the organization as whole. This is important, because all leaders who are constantly engaging in such actions will set a new standard for the organization. As the previous attitudes that were once acceptable will no longer be tolerated, which forces everyone to think and act differently. Once you create this kind of shake up within an organization is when you will change its atmosphere. At which point, everyone will begin demonstrating more of a sense of personal responsibility, for what is happening. This improves the strength of the organization, by making sure that nothing is left to chance, as everyone is willing to go the extra mile. A good example of this can be seen in the film Twelve O'Clock High, when Savage and General Pritchard visit the unit, to find out why they have been having so many problems. After hearing about how the men believe that they are being sent on unusually dangerous missions, they become convinced that Davenport's attitude of blaming others has spread to the entire unit. (Clemens, 1999) This mirrors the same idea presented in Be Know Do: Leadership the Army Way, where it says, "In business too often, the values that are preached don't matter to people. The idea that people are getting up in the morning to peruse shareholder value or exceed customer expectations is silly." (Hesselbein, 2004) What these examples show, are that once an organization has developed a poisonous atmosphere, some kind of shake up must take place that will let everyone know that thing are going to be changes. At which point, the new leadership must show a sense of self responsibility for the organization. After doing this consistently over the course of time, this attitude of everyone being responsible for what happens within an organization will create a sense of values.

A second attribute that all great leaders posses is: self-discipline. One of the biggest problems with many leaders is: they will often talk about how everyone should be focused on constantly achieving the organizations objectives. Yet, these leaders who often preach of this form of self-discipline are: the first ones not to maintain it. Where, they will tell the staff how they are required to go the extra mile for the organization, then they turnaround and engage in the actions that they discouraged. Because this individual or someone in the leadership, the behavior is often excused. Once this take place, it means that many people in the staff will begin to see upper management as nothing more than hypocritical, where they will say one thing and do another. At which point, the overall amounts of self-discipline within the organization will decline. A good example of this can be seen with comments from Be Know Do: Leadership the Army Way where it says, "For leaders in civilian organizations, self-discipline means keeping cool in tense meetings, answering the emotional outbursts of others calmly so they can regain control, keeping focused on their units objective and having the courage to change their own behavior when they are asking others to change. Self-discipline means most of all that the leader manages their own emotions. Those who can not manage themselves -- who lack self-discipline -- will fail at managing others." (Hesselbein, 2004) This is significant, because it shows how the overall amounts of consistently applying self-discipline to your own life, will have a dramatic effect upon the organization. Those who are able to effectively control and manage their own emotions will be able to effectively manage their own team. This is because the standards are evenly applied to all employees and managers. At which point, the staff will see that management has the same kind of self-discipline that they are encouraging their employees to have. Once this occurs, is when you will see a consistent standard of self-discipline among all individuals.

A third attribute that all leaders posses is sense of charisma. This is where someone has the ability to inspire and lead other to take action, even during those times that it seems like all may be lost or there is no point. An example of this can be seen in the book Be Know Do: Leadership the Army Way where it says, "Leaders are self starters -- they act when there are no clear instructions, adapt when the situation changes or when the plan falls apart." (Hesselbein, 2004) This is important because it builds off of the two previous attributes discussed. Where, demonstrating a sense of responsibility and having self-discipline, is because of a leaders ability to inspire and motivate people. This more than just instilling positive / feel good type of messages, instead it involves making certain that everyone is on the same page in an organization. Where, they are willing to use various forms of discipline to instill the changes that are required for an organization to achieve its objectives. Over the short-term, this may mean using harsh methods to instill this change of atmosphere. Then, once this attitude begins to be embraced, is when you can be able to instill a sense of responsibility within an organization. A good example of this can be seen in the film Twelve O'Clock High, where Savage is relieving Davenport of Command. During this process, he discovers that Davenport's Executive Officer Lieutenant Colonel Ben Gately is missing. While, Davenport has a sense of indifference, Savage becomes irritated with such gross dereliction of duty. At which point, he has Gately arrested for being absent without leave. (Clemens, 1999) This is significant, because it highlights how a part of having any kind of charisma, may require you having to engage in unorthodox actions; to instill in everyone that a change is going to take place with or without them. Once people begin to see this kind of stark alterative, they will either adapt to the changes that being asked of them or they will leave the organization. In many ways, this is helping the leadership to find out who is dedicated to the success of the organization and those who are just there. Once you have this information, those who truly want to be there can be inspired through having a sense of responsibility and self-discipline; that what they are doing is something bigger than just work. Instead, it is about the team working together achieving the common objectives that will not only benefit everyone, but the individual as well.

Clearly, the movie Twelve O'Clock High and the book Be Know Do: Leadership the Army Way, highlights the common characteristics that all great leaders posses. This… [END OF PREVIEW]

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