Throughout the movie we observe Peck’s character employing a variety of adhering methods, but ultimately discovering that true combat effectiveness and cohesion is accomplished through a transformational leadership style. While the movie illustrates these leadership theories practiced by General Savage, these theories are not all inclusive and fail to explain the behavior of General Savage during the movie. Specifically, transactional leadership is inherently limited compared to the effects of transformational leadership, while the latter is relatively ineffective without first employing or practicing the former style.
In order to fully understand General Savage’s motivation and behavior during his movie, we must use employ the Path-Goal Theory and transformational theory concepts in concert. The theory of Path-Goal Leadership (Evans 1970; House 1971) sets the conditions of the unit’s recovery based on the leadership interaction with the subordinates needs and expected outcomes. In organizational studies, the path-goal model is a leadership theory that states that a leader’s function is to clear the path toward the goal of the group, by meeting the needs of subordinates.
While Path-Goal theory establishes a basis for high performance, it relies heavily upon the leader and does not allow the lowers to further self-actuality or grow (Mascot 1 943; Alder 1972) to develop higher levels of performance. In this case, the concept of transformational leadership is required to fully realize the potential of the followers, and in the case of the movie, the unit’s potential to achieve high levels of performance without the leader’s direct input. Transformational leaders offer a purpose that transcends short-term goals and focuses on higher order outcomes (Burns, 1979).
This introduces the concept of morality into leader-follower dynamic since both “can be lifted into their better selves” (p. 62) through this relationship. The followers internalize these needs, take on the characteristics and perspectives of the leader, and become like the leader himself. Green and Lull-Been (1991) found that while the initial leader follower exchange is typified by a transactional relationship, in order to be truly effective the exchange needs to become transformational.
However, attempting to employ transformational leadership without first meeting the lower order needs and establishing trust between the leader and the followers will result in the rejection of the leader by the followers Bass, 1997). Path-Goal Leadership Theory The Path-Goal Theory developed by Robert House (1971 ) is based on the Expectancy Theory of Motivation (Broom, 1964). The managers job is viewed as coaching or guiding workers to choose the best paths for reaching their goals.
Best is judged by the accompanying achievement of organizational goals. It is related to the precepts of Goal Setting Theory (Lock & Lethal, 1 990; Outlook & Kim, 1987) and argues that leaders will have to engage in different types of leadership behavior depending on the nature and the demands of a particular situation. It is the leaders job to assist followers in attaining goals and to provide the direction and support needed to ensure that their goals are compatible with the organization’s goals.
A leader’s behavior is acceptable to subordinates when viewed as a source of satisfaction and motivational when need satisfaction is contingent on performance, and the leader facilitates, coaches, and rewards effective performance. Path-Goal Theory identifies achievement-oriented, directive, participative, and supportive leadership styles (House & Mitchell, 1974) and addresses when to effectively employ each style depending on five inter- elated factors. Path-Goal Theory sass mess that leaders are flexible and that they can change their style, as situations require.
The theory proposes two contingency variables, such as environment and follower characteristics, that moderate the leader behavior-outcome relationship. The leader must consider follower’s valences, instrumentalities, expectancies, equity of rewards, and accuracy of role perceptions when assessing the requirements of his followers. Additionally, personal characteristics of subordinates determine how the environment and leader are interpreted. Effective leaders clarify the path to help their followers achieve organizational goals and facilitate the journey by reducing roadblocks and pitfalls.
This approach assumes that there is one right way of achieving a goal and that the leader can see it while the followers can not. This casts the leader as the knowing person and the followers as dependent, thereby limiting the development of the follower. While the path-goal theory has some validity, Bass argues that better leaders integrate a task-oriented and relationship-oriented approach (Blake & Mouton, 1964) as well as demonstrate heir ability to clarify the path to the goals (Bass, 1960, 1990).
Furthermore, this transactional leadership theory prevents the organization from attaining higher levels of performance in absence of the leader. Transformational Leadership Theory James MacGregor Burns (1978) first introduced the concepts of transformational and transactional leadership in his treatment of political leadership, but this term is now used in organizational psychology as well. According to Burns, the difference between transformational and transactional leadership is what leaders and followers offer one another.
Transformational traders offer a purpose that transcends short-term goals and focuses on higher order intrinsic needs. This results in followers identifying with the needs of the leader. The four dimensions of transformational leadership are idealized influence, inspirational motivation, intellectual stimulation, and individualized consideration (Bass 1985). Charisma or idealized influence is defined as the degree to which the leader behaves in admirable ways that cause followers to identify with the leader.
This is about the leader having a clear set of values and demonstrating them in every action, providing a role model for their followers. Inspirational motivation incorporates a leader’s ability to communicate a vision that is appealing and inspiring to followers while modeling that the vision. Leaders with inspirational motivation challenge followers with high standards, communicate optimism about future goals, and provide meaning for the task at hand. Intellectual stimulation encompasses the leader’s ability to challenge assumptions, take risks and solicit followers’ ideas.
Leaders with this trait stimulate and encourage creativity in their followers. Finally, individualized consideration or Individualized attention is defined as the degree to which the deader attends to each follower’s needs, acts as a mentor or coach to the follower and listens to the follower’s concerns and needs. Of note is the tension between Burns’ original transformational leadership theory and Bass’ caveat against the influence of charismatic leaders without the moral foundations of authentic transformational leadership (Bass & Sterilizer, 1998).
While Burns saw transformational leadership as being inextricably linked to higher order values (Mascot, 1943; Alder, 1972), Bass viewed this a potentially amoral and developed the four components of values based leadership to illustrate he difference between self-serving transformational leadership and “socially oriented transformational” (Bass 1997) leadership. Howell and Viola (1992) felt that only socialized leaders concerned for the common good can be truly transformational leaders.
Charismatic leaders, primarily concerned with their own self-interests, cannot be considered transformational leaders due to their lack of commitment to a “clearly stated, continually-enforced code of ethical conduct” (Bass & Sterilizer, 1998). The Art of Leadership in “Twelve O’ Clock High” How much can a man give? When the U. S. 8th Army Air Force 91 8th Bombardment Group is ordered on their fourth mission in four days, Brigadier General Frank Savage demands “maximum effort” from the group’s leadership and men.
When their overwrought commanding officer, Colonel Davenport, speaks out in their defense, Savage regards this as a sign of weakness?an officer should not “over-identify’ with his men?and begins to doubt the capabilities of both the commanding officer and the unit itself. General Patrick Pritchard, commanding general of the VIII Bomber Command, Eighth Air Force recognizes the problems with group are rooted in Davenport; and after a disastrous mission, lives Davenport.
Brigadier General Frank Savage, the that’s Air Operations Officer and former commanding officer of the first 8-17 bomb group to see combat, is assigned by General Pritchard to take over the 91 8th Bombardment Group. The Brigadier General must change the unit’s valence for poor performance and rebuild its morale in the face of danger. Here, Savage employs a traditional transactional leadership style as he attempts to improve the unit’s performance. In this example, Savage realizes that the men in his unit don’t have the confidence in their skills or their leaders and are a liability in combat.
House’s Path-Goal Theory is especially useful as we observe Savage assess his subordinate leaders and the men within the organization. He determines that an autocratic, directive leadership style is most effective in this situation, given the time constraints between missions. In directive leadership, the leader lets followers know what is expected of them and tells them how to perform their tasks. This style is appropriate when the task or work environment is unstructured and complex and the followers are inexperienced.
Yet, as the men grow colder due to Savage’s orders and the missions bring them closer to heir crucial German bombing targets, the he learns the practical impossibility of raising the confidence of young men while also sending them to their deaths. Savage decides to focus on increasing the competency levels of his bomber crews and begins to change his followers instrumentality by relieving Lieutenant Colonel Gayety from his position of Group Executive Officer and re-assigns him as commander of a B-17 named Leper Colony.
As the story progresses, Savage transfers any crewman who fails to measure up to the Leper Colony. Major Joe Cob, one of Savage’s squadron commanders, is made the new Air Executive Officer following a candid and forthright exchange with General Savage in which Cob displays his personal integrity and commitment to high standards. The 18th resumes combat operations, and the group commander continues to earn the crew’s enmity with his blistering post-mission critiques. Upset with Savage’s brand of leadership, all of the group’s pilots put in for transfer out of the unit.
Clearly the exchange between leader and follower is not satisfactory (Hollander, 1986) to the men of the unit and conflict is inevitable. The next two missions prove fairly successful, but he continues to drive the men hard and Norse queries about the transfers. Savage asks the Group Adjutant, Major Harvey Coastal, to delay their applications while he attempts to improve the unit’s performance. General Savage realizes that the crews are well trained in basic formation flying and that the directive leadership style is counter-productive to his goal of increasing the unit’s combat effectiveness.
Accordingly, he calls his leadership together during a briefing and explains the purpose of his training plan and lets the men know that he expects them to accomplish the challenging tasks set before the unit. In achievement-oriented leadership, the leader sets challenging goals for followers, expects them to perform at their highest level, and shows confidence in their ability to meet this expectation. This style is considered most effective and acceptable when the task or work environment is complex.
Given that General Savage is changing the unit’s operating procedures in preparation for increasingly difficult combat operations, his attempt of instilling high standards in his unit are met with mixed results by the men and leadership of the 91 8th Bombardment Group. However, the airmen and pilots egging to respect the general after he leads them on a mission in which all of the group’s aircraft make it back home although the 18th was the only group to strike the target. During that mission, bad weather forced the entire command’s recall and only the 18th failed to return, bringing an anxious General Pritchard to Archery.
When the group returned without losses from a successful bombing raid, Savage insisted he had radio failure and never heard the recall order. General Pritchard angrily refuses to believe him, but Savage demands the group receive a commendation for their persistence and courage. In doing so, Savage affects the authority system of an organization when he establishes a new standard for high performance in the face of adversity. According to House (1971 ) the ability to leaders to raise the levels and types of rewards related to the goal of the unit will directly affect the performance of the followers in that unit.
Although Savage begins to see the unit beginning to improve its performance, but still maintains an autocratic, transactional leadership style despite the urgings of his subordinate leaders to become more supportive of the men. Yet Savage realizes that a transactional leadership style alone is not enough to meet the goals of the unit, much like Elevation (1980) suggests. The men must attain a higher level of performance, and that is something that can only occur when their sense of self-worth is engaged and committed (Shaman, 1991) to the mission of the group.
To Savage, no one should want to be on the ground when the group is conducting a combat mission?to do so would imperil the welfare of the unit and mission itself. According to Bass and Sterilizer, “true and authentic transformational leaders are inwardly and outwardly unconcerned about the good that can be achieved for the group, organization… For which they feel responsible” (1998). Savage articulates this vision to Major Coastal in a rare moment of humanity, and we have the first glimmerings of a leadership paradigm shift from a transactional to transformational.
The next mission takes the 18th Bombardment Group into Germany for the first time and upon their return, General Savage discovers his driver, Sergeant Inclemency, had stowed aboard his plane, and Major Cob reveals that the adjutant, group surgeon, and even the chaplain had also stowed aboard various lanes in order to participate in the first German raid. Bass writes that this type of idealized influence has generated “pride, loyalty, confidence, and alignment around a shared purpose” (1997, p. 33) and is an important component of transformational leadership. Although secretly pleased, Frank nevertheless berates his adjutant and chaplain for poor judgment. However, the 18th appears to have accepted Savage’s vision and furthermore has begun to address the individual higher order needs required of a transformational experience at the organizational level (Burns, 1978). This inspirational motivation combined with Savage’s individualized consideration is the true turning point of the movie as we observe the follow leader relationship in a new light.
When Doc tells General Savage that Lieutenant Colonel Gayety has been hospitalized after flying three missions with painful cracked vertebrae, Savage visits him in the hospital after struggling with the implications of his visit. Savage is afraid that he will identify too closely with the men and suffer the same fate as Colonel Davenport. Ultimately, he visits the hospital, exchanges good-natured comments tit the men, and expresses his remorse at Gayety’s condition while promising to help him during his recovery.
Although Gayety is reserved with Savage, he is deeply moved by the general’s sincere expression of respect and concern. This individualized consideration on Savage’s part is not self-serving, but instead a moral judgment that also causes Gayety’s perspective on leadership to change as well. His courage in flying without complaint despite his injury brings about a rapprochement between Gayety and Savage, and he is reinstated as the Air Executive Officer. Soon after, the combined chiefs of staff then devise a major bombing campaign on German ball-bearing factories that, if successful, would validate daylight bombing.
However, on the mission day, Savage has a physical and emotional breakdown, literally unable to climb into his bomber. Lieutenant Colonel Gayety assists him from the plane and then assumes leadership of the 18th and the mission lead, thereby validating Savage’s transformational approach to leadership. Major Coastal, the Group’s air surgeon, and Colonel Davenport conclude that Savage has made a superhuman effort although he winks himself a failure for not being able to go up again.
However, Savage’s leadership is still manifest within the unit, even though he is physically unable to accompany his men. This is embodied in the selfless behavior of leadership by example and commitment to the unit and the mission of Lieutenant Colonel Gayety, previously considered “a traitor to yourself, to this group, to the uniform you wear” by Savage. Ultimately, Savage’s leadership style transforms this former coward and the entire dispirited unit into a high performing, cohesive unit that is able to remain effective even without Savage’s direct influence.
Although Savage may have fallen into the same trap of over-identification with his men as did Davenport, his commitment to high standards and an appealing vision of the future, motivated his unit to accomplish the mission and put forth a “maximum effort”. Summary and Conclusions Throughout the movie we observe General Savage employing a variety of leadership methods but ultimately discovering that true combat effectiveness and cohesion is accomplished through a transformational leadership style.
Savage realizes that positive outcomes transactional leadership are inherently emitted compared to the far-reaching positive impact of transformational leadership. The two leadership paradigms are inter-related since the latter is relatively ineffective without first employing or practicing the former. While Path Goal theory establishes a basis for high performance; it relies heavily Upon the leader and does not allow the followers to develop higher levels of performance.
The concept of transformational leadership is required to fully realize the potential of the followers, and in the case of the movie, the unit’s potential to achieve high levels of performance without the leader’s direct input. While General Savage is seen as an autocratic task master by his men, they ultimately come to identify with him not through his transactional path-goal leadership, but through his transformational morally based inspirational motivation and individualized consideration focused on the collective good.