Braveheart Edward the Longshanks, king of England was a dominant figure bent on obtaining allegiance by most any means available. He was an autocratic leader in that he was the central authority. The only power that he was willing to give was to those that he could still control through fear and bribery. Expansion of his power base came by using the greed of others. Given no concern for human needs, he expected his followers to do what they were told and not think for themselves. Input from others was received but ultimately what he wanted was all that mattered.
He used negative theory by applying fear for those that opposed and positive theory by offering rewards for those that agreed with him is his quest for power. Braveheart is based on the life of William Wallace. William Wallace was a leader most would follow due to the fact that he did not feel he was more important that the ultimate goal, freedom for Scotland. Wallace is single minded and shows directive leadership by having a clear vision or purpose. All he wants is freedom. He was Democratic in his leadership style in that he was willing to delegate authority, encouraged participation and relied on the advice of others.
This style is closely related Herzberg’s motivators and Maslow’s higher order skills and also applies to McGregor’s theory Y group of people. Wallace makes great strategic decisions. He knows military strategy and history, because he has studied it. This knowledge and preparation, along with his native intelligence, allows him to make good decisions. Wallace leads by example. Those leading the English armies he fought, sat on their horses, high on a hill, and away from the battle. Wallace stood at the front lines, with his troops, battling with them side by side.
This became an inspired vision of those that saw their leaders’ willingness to be in the fight with them. Communication is a category in which leaders must become excellent. It helps people to feel included. Through the power of his words he pulls a band of Scots from various clans together to fight in a battle none of them feel they can win. Leadership is the critical factor that helps a group identify its goals and then motivates and assists in achieving the goals. Wallace met this role by encouraging his men to be committed and involved, by demonstrating his willingness to do the same.
He was not willing to reap the rewards without being willing to risk all he had. Inspiring the people around him to be more than they thought they were, and to strive to have more than they thought they deserved. He had taught them to value their freedom and their independence above all else. Empowerment builds trust but sometimes that could back fire, and it did when Wallace empowered others by his willingness to trust them with sharing his vision. He trusted the nobles by sharing his battle plans; they used this against him by going to Longshanks and divulging the plans.
Access to information and resources is a characteristic necessary for empowering, but as Wallace found out sharing company secrets can be a disadvantage as well. In his first real leadership role on the field of battle the three skills associated with leadership was shown. Wallace had visions (conceptual) in how to fight the English and their heavy cavalry, something no army had ever been able to do. By making spears (technical) twice longer than any used before, they could deal a crushing blow to the avalry without sustaining great losses themselves (human) indicating Wallace’s willingness to try something new and innovative even though it was untested. Focusing on the path-goal theory, Wallace still willing to trust those that had already betrayed him once before agrees to meet once again. His desire for the one goal he has given up everything for, freedom is still within reach. Still believing Robert the Bruce is the man that he hopes he is and will join him to fight for Scotland. Robert the Bruce looked to Wallace as his mentor, admiring Wallace’s uncompromising nature and his courage.
Robert the Bruce knew all along what the right course of action was, but sometimes, we know the right thing to do is the hard thing to do. At times we fall prey to weakness and allow someone else to assume the leadership role. He finally realized that what Wallace had was a passion for something greater than himself and that his followers were willing to give up everything to follow him. Wallace’s final act of leadership inspired Robert the Bruce to assume his rightful claim to the throne and to do so by asking those men that had followed Wallace to follow him as well.
Determined by the manner in which Wallace was accepted by his followers he had great leader-member relations. Robert learns how painful betrayal is when his father conspires to have William captured. I can’t fail to mention another main character in the movie, one who falls into Hersey-Blanard contingency model “selling” (high willingness, low ability but highly trainable). Princess Isabella, wife of the weak and indecisive Prince Edward and daughter-in-law of Longshanks.. Unafraid in her willingness to go see for herself who this William Wallace was.
Isabella show the traits of the man she was dealing with and how he differed from Longshanks and her husband Edward. . She had access to information and resources and was willing to use those at her disposal to help Wallace when she could. William Wallace wins the love and secret help from Isabella. Betrayal comes full circle when Isabella tells Longshanks on his death bed that there will be an heir but that it will not be on his bloodline. In this classic story you have contrasting styles of leadership, autocratic and democratic. Each leadership style may be effective depending on the particular situation.
A good leader must determine which is best for a particular circumstance. In this case, one leads safely behind the battle lines (Edward the Longshanks) while the other leads the charge in the heat of the battle (William Wallace). It is the difference of leading from the rear and leading from the front, leading by order and leading by example. Pulling out a character from a personal experience is not very diffcult. This person was always in front and I have never felt alone in tackling my challenges. As I was growing up, I contributed to the decision making but in the end she always made the final decision.
Like William Wallace she is a democratic leader, a motivator and always encouraged me to work hard for more than a financial reward. My mother leads by example. A movie has two goals, first to entertain, to keep you awake and interested. The second is to uplift, to educate, or to inform; to make you a better person when you walk away. In the case of “Braveheart” I think the changes are for the pursuit of the second. Citations Newstrom, John. Organizational Behavior, Human Behavior at Work. New York; McGraw-Hill Irwin, 2007. Schneider B. (2008, Fall). Lecture Notes (Chapter 7 and 8) MGT 3322: Winston Salem State University