Leadership lessons from
High explores the importance of leadership and defining factors in its effectiveness. The movie is set on a US Air Force base in England during WWII, where a squadron of pilots is trying to execute highly risky daylight bombing raids in Nazi-occupied Europe. Colonel Davenport being relieved of his post due to him becoming too close to his troops, he wanted to be one of the boys and this hindered his ability to lead. Leadership, as we discussed in class several times, involves the ability to direct by nderstanding people’s emotions and motivations.
As exhibited by characters like General Savage and Captain Trewsbury, a leader should also be aware that theyre not in a popularity contest since tough decisions surely lie ahead. The movie emphasizes this point, with Savage making tough choices that put him at odds with his troops. For example, from the get-go Savage sets a high standard of performance, he wastes no time in making clear what is acceptable and what’s not. Before even entering the airbase he reprimands a guard for not checking his ID and ithin hours of being in charge he decides to close the bar until further notice.
He also leads by example and modeling the behavior he expects from others. In a managerial context this translates to employees working harder when they notice leaders working mindfully and passionately. Another leadership tactic the movie displays is nudging versus pushing. General Savage is a demanding leader but by no means does he micro-manage. He gives meaningful direction to his troops and trusts they’ll be heedful in accomplishing the task at hand.
In a business context I would imagine General Savage as the kind of manager that sets clear but not too-specific goals for the team, offers feedback and sets and expectation for results, not activity i. e. working late doesn’t mean working hard. From watching the movie, one could also assert that effective leadership makes communication a priority. Savage not only communicates clearly to his troops what are the goals and expectations but also listens to their concerns. He is aware that leadership requires understanding other’s motivations and emotional state.
When unable to gain the support of the troops, Savage calls Officer Bishop to his office, who is trusted and well liked among the troops. He communicates to Bishop why the missions are so important, hoping to create a sense of purpose among the troops. By listening to Bishop, offering an explanation and allowing him to make his own decisions, Savage persuades Bishop to stay, who in turn convinces the other pilots to stay. Alejandra Rodriguez General Savage also teaches us that promoting a sense of pride and resilience mong a team can have powerful consequences.
He demotes the underperforming the worst-performing crew on the base, poking Gatelys sense of pride and giving him a change to prove himself. When Gately shows extreme duress under combat by flying three missions with a fractured spine, Savage recognizes his display of character. Finally the movie sounds a clear warning: even the most effective leadership tactics of today may not stand true tomorrow. You must be able to adapt to a changing environment or risk being left behind.