Effective Leadership Styles Saving Private Ryan Term Paper

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Leadership Styles -- Saving Private Ryan

There are many films, plays, and even books that clearly illustrate effective leadership styles. Examples of films that reflect various leadership theories include, but they are not limited to, Saving Private Ryan, Platoon, and The Thin Red Line. In this text, I focus on Saving Pirate Ryan. In so doing, I will highlight some of the leadership theories, traits, as well as qualities that could be derived from the film.

Saving Private Ryan

Set during the World War II Normandy Invasion, this particular film largely concerns itself with the aftermath of the said invasion. Once General George Marshall learns that three members of the Ryan family -- all brothers -- lost their lives in active combat, he orders that the only surviving member, James Francis Ryan, be rescued. For this particular undertaking, he dispatches a team of eight in a mission to not only find but also save Private Ryan. The team in question has Captain John Miller as its leader.


For this discussion, I will be analyzing three key characters. These include Private James Ryan, Sergeant Mike Horvath, and Captain John H. Miller -- the leader of the group dispatched to save Private Ryan.

Captain John H. Miller

Throughout the film, Captain John H. Miller is seen as being a charismatic leader. Charismatic leadership according to Rosenau (as cited in Vadell, 2009, p. 40) includes "leadership characteristics such as dominance, influence, self-confidence, and strong moral values." Some of the traits and characteristics of a charismatic leader exhibited by Captain John H. Miller include, but they are not limited to confidence, honesty, initiative, and influence. These will be demonstrated in the subsequent sections of this text. It should also be noted, from the onset, that in the past, various authors and leadership experts like Locke and Kirkpatrick have identified several traits that set leaders apart for non-leaders. Some of the leadership traits and characteristics identified on this front include, but they are not limited to, optimism, self-confidence, honesty and integrity, and drive (Daft, 2014). Others include charisma, tactfulness, independence, the ability to enlist cooperation, fair-mindedness, tenacity, and decisiveness (Daft, 2014).

A charismatic leader, Captain John H. Mille, in more than one occasion demonstrates his ability to not only inspire devotion in others, but also the ability to influence the behavior of others. For instance, Miller in one particular instance taps on his charisma to cool tempers between Reiben and Horvath. This is after the two soldiers engage in a fight, after one of them (Reiben) attempts to leave the group. In this particular instance, Miller opens up to the group and confesses that he dearly misses his wife. He also allows his soldiers to have a sneak preview of his private life, all in an attempt to calm flaring tempers, inspire devotion towards the cause, and demonstrate that likely them, he is also "human" and hence prone to challenges. Thanks to his charm, he is able to calm an otherwise-heated situation and, hence, refocus the soldiers on the most important issue, the mission. As Lussier and Achua (p. 329, 2012) point out, a charismatic leader is in most cases "forthright in giving his or her assessment of a situation…" This is clearly exemplified in this particular instance.

Miller's honesty and forthrightness, key characteristics of charismatic leaders, are also largely evident in several other instances. For instance, in one particular instance, Miller admits to members of the group he leads that the mission at hand, i.e. saving Private Ryan, is not something he would ordinarily put at the top of his 'to do' list. He even goes ahead and admits that he does not know Ryan personally. He however points out that in his honest opinion, the mission is valid -- that is, if saving Ryan is what it would take for him to go back to home, to his wife whom he misses dearly. There are several other instances where Miller is faced with dwindling conviction amongst his members. However, in every one of such instances, Miller is able to tap into his charisma and convince them to carry on. For instance, by admitting to his men that he also misses his wife and would have wanted to go home if he had an option, Miller reignites that…

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