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Leadership skills and behaviour

University: University of Wollongong

Code: NMIH307

Q1: Critical analyse the leadership skills and behaviour displayed by characters within the movie/book.

Q2: Relate thease qualities to theories of leadership.

Q3: From your analysis, relate how the identified leadership theories, knowledge, skills and behaviour can influence cultue within an organisation.

Q4: Dicuss, using evidence from leterature, how these elements of leadership impact on nurses and on patient outcomes?

Answer

Introduction 

Leadership does not necessarily always indicate a particular position or a person’s seniority. Leadership can be simply summed up as someone’s ability to lead and confidence to initiate innovative steps which are far from being orthodox. In this essay leadership skills are analyzed with reference to the 2011 Walt Disney production The Help. By delving deep into the major characters of the movie making Skeeter, the protagonist Focal point, leadership traits of the characters have been thoroughly discussed in the essay. This study also concentrates on the other two characters who have leadership capabilities in them. Theories of leadership have been referred to in analysis of the characters. Lastly the leadership traits of the characters are discussed from an organizational perspective. This essay attempt to enlighten the importance of leadership in order to bring a remarkable change in the society or any organization that is a microcosm of the society.


Leadership skills and behavior

Leadership cannot be taught but it can be enhanced through mentoring. Leadership is different from management as it includes the act of inspiring the subordinates (Latham, 2014). The activity or ability to lead a group requires a clear vision. It is important to share the vision with others in so that the subordinates willingly follow and cooperate with the leader. A skillful leader needs to have the knowledge to provide information and know proper methods to realize the vision (Northouse, 2015). A skillful leader also requires the ability to think creatively at the moment of crisis and also should know how to handle people with different perspectives.


Character analysis with reference to leadership traits

Leadership quality is a seminal feature that is necessary to run any organization successfully. The Help is a movie that depicts the tale of different women belonging to different strata of the society. The setting of this movie is Mississippi during the 1960s. The major characters of the movie possess their individual characteristics which can be associated with the leadership qualities that indicate their ultimate deviation from their conventional roles. The plot of the movie primarily circles around Skeeter the protagonist of the movie who aspires to be a writer. She decides to interview middle aged Afro American house maids for the content of her books ( www.youtube.com , 2017). Initially she started of with this project because of nostalgic sentiments as she herself was brought up by an elderly African governess with whom she shared a bond of love and affection. Skitter initially interviews fifty years old Aibileen Clark who works as a housekeeper. The crux of the movie centers on several issues faced by the black household helping hands who are working under their white masters. Issue of Racism is one of the primary focuses though the movie centers on Skeeter’s experiences. Skeeter comes across Aibileen and her best friend Minny Jackson who works for Walter’s racist daughter Hilly Holbrook ( www.youtube.com , 2017). 


With the progress of the plot the audience easily recognizes the leadership traits that are evident in portrayal of the major female characters. These three women possess different skills and the inherent leadership attributes suppressed inside them leads them to ultimately break the conventional norms of the society ( www.youtube.com , 2017).


Behavior and leadership skills of the characters

The leadership skills can be noticed in the character of Skitter from the very beginning as she possesses the spirit of a rebel. She is different from other fellow classmates who dropped out college to get married. After graduation she decides to write a book about the black female servants although the editor-in-chief made her alert of the fact that her work is about providing voice to the black female servants which is against the law of Mississippi. This sense of rebellion is a noticeable trait of her character. With gradual progress of the plot the audience can easily identify the leadership qualities of her character. She has the ability to make best of the opportunities that come in her path. As she decides to write “domestic Maintenance column” at the Jackson journal. In the process of gathering data from the domestic helping hands she initiates drastic changes in their life as well as in her own life.


According to leadership expert Warren Bennis “leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” this precisely what Skitter does. Like great leaders she has social awareness and intelligence, a zest for change and the ability to develop a vision (Avolio and Yammarino, 2013). She also has the ability to articulate why it is necessary to initiate changes and set direction. Another relevant skill that is considered to be the key to leadership is the ability to inspire others. Throughout the development of the plot she was inspired these house maids who ultimately initiated a change in their life. The skill to motivate and inspire others is important from organizational perspective also. Contemporary research on the leadership emphasizes on the on the importance of self-awareness and self-mastery as inner resources of the psyche (Romager et al, 2017).


For better understanding of the leadership qualities different leadership theories need to be glanced through. Most of the well acknowledged leadership related theories focuses on certain factors that makes an individual a successful leader. These factors can be summarized as following


  • Ability to overcome succession failures and also ability to accept undeniable failure gracefully. Skeeter accepts her initial rejection from the editor eventually and also when Aibileen refuses to help her, she does not lose hope and tries to convince further (Dumdum et al, 2013).
  • Ability to communicate with others is another mastery one needs to acquire in order to possess leadership skills (Northouse, 2015). Skeeter successfully interacts with the house maids during the interview sessions and evidently connects with them. This has a positive impact on their lives.
  • A skillful leader needs to have the ability to monitor his or her own self and develop personal mental models that can undermine leadership efficiency (Chemers, 2014). It is a noticeable trait not only in Skeeter but in Aibileen too.
  • Management style is also an important factor for the leader of any organization.  A detailed study and closer view at the plot identify the management abilities that the governesses namely Aibileen and Minny Jackson possess. They are the one who manages the household needs of their masters along with that takes care of the children. Both time management and organizational management skills are required for this as they manage their own family along with their master’s family.


Theories of leadership

The concept and practice of leadership can be explained with the wide range of leadership theories. The leadership qualities of the characters can be related to the basic leadership traits that most of the theories acknowledge. Most of the leadership theories portray leadership either as a process or a relationship and a combination of traits or personality features. The popular leadership theories include

  • Great man theories 
  • Trait theories
  • Skills theories
  • Situational theories
  • Contingency theories
  • Participative theories 
  • Management theories 
  • Relationship theories


Great man theories emphasize on the inherent capacity of leaders. According to this theory the great leaders are born and leadership can not be acquired through practice. These theories present the leaders as heroic figures (Hezlett, 2016). The character of Skeeter satisfies and contradicts the theory at the same time. Skeeter’s character can not be considered to be a born leader but she also possesses certain inherent qualities of leadership like her will to go against the social convention. This is evident from her decision to follow the dream of becoming a writer rather than getting married after graduating. The great man itself indicates that leadership quality is primarily a male quality. Skeeter and other major characters of the movie contradict this established thought.


Trait theory is also similar to the Great Man Theories as it focuses on the inherent leadership traits of a person. It often identifies few particular personality or behavioral traits shared by the leaders (Mason et al, 2014). Courage, extraversion and self-confidence are some of the identified traits that can be linked with great leaders according to this theory (Day et al, 2014). These qualities are prevalent in the protagonist and to some extent can also be found in Aibileen who at last quits her job in order to start off with something new.


Behavioral theories of leadership suggest that great leaders are not born but they are made. It completely deviates from the Great Man Theories and focuses on the actions of the leaders rather than the inherent qualities of a person (Nanjundeswaraswamy and Swamy, 2014). This theory suggests that people can learn to lead through observation and participation. The governesses shown in the movie do not have inherent qualities of a leader or to be more concise they do not possess heroic grandeur. Their leadership traits satisfy the behavioral theories and participatory theories. According to participatory theories the ideal leaders encourage participation and make the other members feel relevant and committed in the decision making process (Frankel and PGCMS, 2017). Skeeter never tries to dominate those who she interviews. Her cordial relationship with the governesses is noticeable throughout the movie. She retails to allow the input of other characters and her actions never completely overshadow others.


The management theories that are also known as the transactional theories focus on the role of organization, group performance and supervision. The leadership qualities that are traced in the two governesses can be related to this theory (Romager et al, 2017). The relationship between Skeeter and the two governesses can be associated with the relationship theories. According to relationship theories transformational leaders inspire and motivate people and focus on the performance of the group members (Mason et al, 2014). Skeeter also concentrates on motivating the governesses so that they can fulfill their potential. This style makes Skeeter a person of high ethics and morality.


Aibileen triumphs in the face of adversity through a slow and painful process. She is able to identify the dangers associated with her decision-making but gradually she discovers her suppressed courage. She embraces the risk and through her talents, she is able to embrace the central role in writing the project with Skeeter. She rejects her existing social identity as a maid. Such behavioral traits can be identified as leadership qualities because the major trait that a leader possesses is to be courageous in making new and innovative changes leading her towards more independence.


Leadership qualities are more prominent in the character of Minny Jacksoon. She is a struggling individual in the society. She breaks the conventional image of black maids who are expected to be quite and submissive. She is a character who wears her heart on the sleeve and speaks her mind. Her individualism leads to her squabble with Hilly. She also proves to be a powerful character when she finally reveals Hily’s secret. Her characteristics can be related to the leadership qualities as she is unconventional and she is not afraid and timid. Her immense courage indicates the leadership capabilities that her hidden in her because of social suppression.


 Analysis of the leadership qualities from an organizational point of view

Successful and efficient organizational work depends on a group of skilled professionals working as an interdisciplinary team. There are several forces that function as the driving forces to shape the delivery of not only health care but other service organizations as well. The necessary transformations in the concept of health and wellbeing are guided by dynamic leadership (Weiss and Tappen, 2014). The leadership in any organization including healthcare organization is not only critical but also challenging. Each department in any organization has its own chapter of standards. The system view of healthcare organizations led to a different view of leadership. The focal point is not on the performance of the group leaders anymore (Wong et al, 2013). The focus has been shifted on how the leaders of any organization work in a synchronized manner to provide leadership to the organization which will enable the organization to achieve its goal or vision. Leadership is now associated with both management and Governance.


The leadership qualities required for the healthcare organization depend on providing a culture in the organization which fosters safety and quality (Weiss and Tappen, 2014). The leaders of a healthcare organization do not require inherent leadership skills rather they need to have the will to establish a cordial relationship and interaction with his or her subordinates in order to ensure organizational success. This can be linked with the leadership traits that Skeeter possesses. In any organization inherent leadership skills are not essential and these even can lead to the domination of the subordinates. But the skills that behavioral theories suggest are appropriate for any organizational leader especially healthcare organizations because it offers patient care(Wong et al, 2013).


The participatory theories that have been associated with the leadership skills of Skeeter and the governesses can be associated with the health care management as well. The culture of the organization needs to be established through the leaders (Frankel and PGCMS, 2017). The leaders of any healthcare organization establishes  through their words, expectations for action and behavior a culture which values high quality safe patient care, community service and ethical behavior.


 Elements of leadership on Nurses and on patient outcomes

Leadership responsibility of healthcare includes strategically address of the organization’s culture, provision on services, acquiring and allocating resources, providing sufficient staff and priorities for improvement. Organizational leaders need to manage all the factors. To fulfill its proposed responsibilities leadership of an organization engages in both strategic and management thinking (Wong et al, 2013). Appropriate staffing and other resources are ensured by the nurse leaders in order to achieve safe care and optimal patient outcomes. Senior nurse executives look forward to strategic direction through their participation in senior level decision making. The organizations particularly a healthcare organization requires leadership skills and traits. Skeeter and the housemaids she interviewed can exemplify the required leadership skills. 


The governesses managed the child care department of the families for whom they work. Decision making and ability to motivate are the skills that are required for nursing leadership. At different departments and unit levels the frontline leaders engage the nurses in decision making about patient flow and staffing (Weiss and Tappen, 2014). The leaders can be compared to Skeeter as she inspires and motivates the black women to break the shackles of slavery and also informs them of continuous learning opportunities. In a similar manner the nurse leaders encourage the nurses with continuous learning opportunities in order to improve overall healthcare delivery and patient outcome.


The relationally oriented approach focuses on the people and their relationships. The transformational leadership provides a concern and respect for the followers and also shows genuine concern for their welfare (Wong et al, 2013). In such relationship the followers have trust and respect for the leader like the governesses had for Skeeter and they are motivated to provide their best effort to achieve organizational goals. 


Several studies have shown that patient satisfaction also depends on the leadership practices. Rational leadership and transformational leadership are associated with high rate of patient satisfaction. Relational leadership is often associated with patient satisfaction and family satisfaction with residential care is majorly associated with task-oriented leadership style of the nursing home ward managers (Weiss and Tappen, 2014). 


 Conclusion 

It is evident from the study that leadership skills are important factor to run any service organization successfully. The primary focus of this study evidently brings out the leadership qualities and skills which are acquired by the major characters of the 2011 movie The Help. A comparative study between the leadership skills of the characters of the mentioned movie and organizational leadership skills required for a healthcare organization shows that few leadership theories are relevant in understanding both of the scenarios. The theories have been used to establish a link between organizational leadership skills and the leadership qualities of the characters. A detailed analysis of the focused theories establishes an interrelated association between leadership and patient outcome of any healthcare organization. 


It can be stated from the evaluation that relational leadership, transformational leadership and participative leadership are more important for organizational success. These theories are more relevant for the analysis of Skeeter’s leadership skills and the leadership qualities of other characters as well. In any organization different workplace issues can be resolved with efficient leadership and in the movie also the societal issues faced by the characters are resolved to some extent with their effective leadership qualities which ultimately leads to the possible resolution of the plot.



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