Indeed, this seems a direct response to the prevailing understanding of how one must ultimately achieve organizational effectiveness by seizing on common ground. As our research denotes, "humans are primordial team players. Our uniquely complex social relationships have been a crucial survival advantage. Our extraordinarily sophisticated talent for cooperation culminated in the modern organization." (Goleman, 199) Indeed, this is the very premise by which the judicial system is allowed to operate. In this context, the jury is a key organizational context in which consensus must be achieved. This imperative denotes a goal which must be reached in spite of the divergent worldviews inherent to any room of twelve different individuals.
It is through this plot movement that Lumet carefully draws out the process of ascension to group cohesion. Indeed, this is no simple task, as Juror #8 must none-too-gently navigate the apprehension of some, the distortion of perspective in others and the outright irrational defiance of still others in order to steward the organization to a recognition of itself as a single working unit. With Juror #3, the presence of a long-standing conflict with his son causes him to apply an irrational and deeply emotional prejudices against the defendant. Sensing this, Juror #8 must steward him toward a proper and ethical ascent to their shared goal, demonstrating the degree to which a lead must also serve to others as a paragon to ethical excellence in supplement to his practical abilities. Indeed, we are shown here that ethical trespass is often a product of ignorance rather than malice.
This points us in the direction of a compelling point of consideration where both leadership and the scenario in this film are concerned. Namely, Yuki suggests that the irrational emotions felt by organizational members must be addressed even as leadership attempts to project and reinforce a common goal. Yuki reports that "many recent conceptions of leadership emphasize the emotional aspects of influence much more than reason. According to this view, only the emotional, value-based aspects of leadership influence can account for the exceptional achievements of groups and organizations. Leaders inspire followers to willingly sacrifice their selfish interests for a higher cause." (Yuki, 5)
Here, Yuki makes a connection which is quite apparent in the Lumet film. Namely, the imperative to address the emotional experiences of organizational members is tantamount to establishing the common ground needed to accomplish group responsibilities and ambitions. For the jury charged with deciding the fate of a young man, the importance of this common goal has been overshadowed by individual emotional dispositions. The leadership role assumed by Juror #8 forces this conflation of interests into the light and requiring organizational members to place the collective priority of rendering a proper decision ahead of individual desires and biases. Here, the leader helps to forge a collective unit out of many disparate strands.
This points to a "requirement in our definition of groups is that of attempting to accomplish a common goal. If there is no common goal or purpose, there is no group by our definition. A common goal is a goal toward which individual members are willing to work." (Ivancevich & Matteson, 314) of course, it is clear that the motives driving each individual in the film's scenario are distinct, and in some cases even clearly divergent. It is this reality that casts doubt initially on the ability of these men to reconcile their own personal beliefs or dispositions with the demands of jurisprudence. And yet, they are united, as contended by the Ivancevich & Matteson text by the clear goal at the outset to achieve a unanimous verdict in the case. Though each has his own perspective on the verdict, they are driven collectively, and thus inevitably, toward the achievement of compromise.
And in many ways, the dynamic between the two jurors around which we have drawn focus is demonstrative of the inherently necessary process in defining ethical decision-making and forging leadership meddle. Indeed, "the inherently abstract or 'fuzzy' nature of values creates the potential for multiple plausible interpretations of the values' appropriate meanings. We argue that value expansion occurs due to both cognitive and interpersonal processes." (Cha & Edmonson, 71) by forcing these processes, Juror #8 emerges as a clear organizational leader, capable even of mounting such resistant forces as the personal prejudice governing Juror #3.
These personal prejudices are particularly compelling for one such as myself. As both a woman and one who is frequently younger than most other organizational members, I find that I must sometimes struggle against peoples' biases and assumptions about me. Both my age and my gender, two features which I consider to be strengths, are sometimes received with hostility by the older men who often surround me. Particularly in those contexts where I have been in a position of authority, I have been forced to use many of the methods applied by Juror #8 in my own battle to command respect. Here, I would find that the brand of participatory leadership utilized by the Juror is particularly accurate to the strategies that helped me to find success and even a positive relationship with my subordinates. By engaging others in ways that allowed for power-sharing and independent attendance to responsibilities, I too have found that others tend to be moved toward the higher cause of organizational success to disband their irrational prejudices.
Cha, S.E. & Edmonson, a.C. (2006). When Values Backfire: Leadership, Attribution, and Disenchantment in a Values-Driven Organization. The Leadership Quarterly, 17, 57-78.
Christensen, S.L. & Kohls, J. (2003). Ethical Decision Making in Times of Organizational Crisis. Business & Society, 42(3), 328-358.