Leadership and the Film Remember the Titans a Review Essay

Movie Team Three reviewed and discussed the film Remember the Titans (Bruckheimer, Oman, & Yakin, 2000). While each member brought up differing perspectives on team leadership principles, there was also a fair amount of consistency across our individual responses. We all appear to agree that while the character of Coach Boone takes a leading role and the focus of the film, the leadership expertise portrayed is not localized to his character alone. Rather, team leadership is exhibited by multiple characters throughout the film.

As such, the film is rife with material that demonstrates numerous concepts from the text and lesson on “Team Leadership” (Northouse, 2010, p. 240). The principal aim of this summary is to briefly outline the key points of our discussion on the film and how it correlates with the concepts embedded in the Team Leadership perspective. Tuckman (1965) Group Stages One concept that everyone in the group recognized is Tuckman’s (1965) “Group Stages” idea (forming, norming, storming, and performing) and how the team transformed as a group through each respective stage (PSU WC, Lesson 12).

For example, we mention that the initiation of group activity, or “forming” stage, takes place as Coach Boone mandates that all players ride on the bus with either defense or offense, depending on their desired position. This begins the process of “forming” as each player is forced to interact with team members of the opposite race. Likewise, we also discuss the “norming” stage in the scene where Blue, Gerry, and Julius call a team meeting one evening in the gym to reaffirm their commitment to the values of respect for one another, perfection in performance, and teamwork, which they began to evelop at camp. It is only after this point in the film that we see the Titan’s team performance enhanced (“performing”) by moving past many of the recurring “storming” conflicts between one another.

As Matt pointed out in his response, the contrast is stark between the face to face conflict between Coach Boone and Bertier (storming) and the team warm up chant and dance (performing). Leadership and the Coaches Another topic we cover in our discussion is the difference between “task” and “maintenance” functionality in team development and how each is demonstrated by different characters in the film.

For instance, “task” or “team performance” is most consistently exhibited by Coach Boone. Even after Gerry’s car accident the viewers are forced to see how committed is Coach Boone to the task of winning football games and schedules a press conference to respond to doubts about his team’s performance after losing Bertier. Coach Yoast, on the other hand, more frequently demonstrates the “maintenance” or “development” mentality in his leadership focus.

Whereas Coach Boone yells at Petey for underperforming (fumbling the football and missing a block), Yoast is seen coming alongside to encourage him and graciously request that Petey replace Alan at linebacker, a position where he knew Petey would be effective. Between these two coaches the film shows that “task functions are closely interrelated with maintenance functions… if the team is well maintained and has good relationships, then the members will be able to work together effectively and get their job done” (Northouse, 2010, p. 247). Another area that we discuss is the element of power in the film.

Between the two coaching styles mentioned above, Coach Boone and Coach Yoast each employ different methods of influence. As Mike and Matt both note in their discussion, whereas Coach Boone had to be the loving “tyrant” to earn the respect of all the players by asserting coercive power, Coach Yoast was already a step ahead and could wield the influence afforded him by degrees of referent power with the white athletes who had played for him in the past. Moreover, both coaches seem to stay consistent with their chosen methods of power as Coach Boone continues to use directives to mandate ompliance while Coach Yoast exploits opportunities for referent power in the construction and maintenance of relationships with the players. Yet, while these tendencies are fairly consistent throughout the film, each coach does exhibit moments where they draw from a different reservoir of power. For example, as Coach Boone whispers in Louie’s ear that he would go over Louie’s test scores with him personally (referent power), Coach Yoast benches Petey for the season for his unwillingness to be a team player in a moment of need (coercive/reward power) (PSU WC, Lesson 6).

One interesting perspective which Mike mentioned in his post, is how the coaches exemplified the complexity of team leadership. As Coach Boone has the offensive schemes of opposing teams analyzed statistically for patterns, he is exhibiting “networking” by gathering this type of information and sharing it will Coach Yoast. Conversely, Coach Yoast demonstrates “data splitting” as he becomes aware of the plan to fix a loss for the Titans as a ploy to oust Coach Boone from the position of head coach. Leadership of the Players

Concerning the leadership of the players, all group members bring up the fact that Gerry, Julius, and Blue exhibit obvious leader moments during the film. However, both Matt and Mike mention the character of Louie Lastik and the leadership qualities that can be inferred from his character as well. While on the surface he could be labeled as the “jovial fat guy” he is the first player to rise above the racial tension (Russo, 2012). When eating lunch he indiscriminately sits down with the black players and is asked by Julius why he is not sitting with “his” people.

Louie’s response is a great example of an early appearance of “unified commitment” as he responds by saying that he does not have a “people” in the racial sense. As Matt states, “Just when the team seems irreparably scattered, Louie, the ‘proverbial sheepdog’ would somehow corral the team and bring them back to the shepherds Gerry and Julius (Brown, 2012). Elements of Effective Teams Our group also discusses Hackman and Walton’s (1986) framework for effective teams. In his first team meeting, Coach Boone states explicitly and clearly what his goals for the team are: “You will be perfect” and structures the all camp and practices according to these “standards of excellence” (Bruckheimer, Oman, & Yakin, 2000; PSU WC, Lesson 12). As “competence” of team members and “principled/coaching” leadership are on obvious and full display throughout the film, “unified commitment” is the concept upon which the film hinges. As this deals primarily with team members “gaining a sense of identification with one another,” we see that the culmination of this commitment is a “collaborative climate” which is at work between the players and coaches during the state championship game (PSU WC, Lesson 12).

For example, we see Alan taking the initiative to request that Petey take his place in the game as he knew that Petey’s athleticism would give the team a better chance of winning than with Alan staying in at linebacker. Moreover, it is during this same game that we see Coach Boone finally letting his pride down by allowing Coach Yoast to suggest he open up his offensive playbook a little wider to try something that the opposing team would not expect (Bruckheimer, Oman, & Yakin, 2000). Conclusion According to the film, leadership is not a localized phenomenon. Rather it can be distributed across a diverse set of individuals and situations.

In the leadership of the coaches we see the differences in critical functions of leadership as demonstrated by the task heavy orientation of Coach Boone and the sincere maintenance driven perspective of Coach Boone. Moreover, each coach demonstrates that “critical functionality” may utilize different sources of power and influence to achieve the same goals. As the players also exhibit leadership qualities, the crux of the film is centered on the development of unity in the face of adversity. As this process progresses we can see that the theoretical insights of “Team Leadership” can be of instructive value.

References

Bruckheimer, J & Oman, C. (Producers), & Yakin, B. (Director). (2000). Remember the Titans [Motion Picture]. United States: Walt Disney Pictures. Lesson 6: Team Leadership. (2011). Pennsylvania State University World Campus. Retrieved from https://elearning. la. psu. edu/psch485/lesson_6 Lesson 12: Team Leadership. (2011). Pennsylvania State University World Campus. Retrieved from https://elearning. la. psu. edu/psch485/lesson_12/lesson-12 Northouse, Peter, G. (2010). Leadership: Theory and Practice. SAGE Publications.