Finding Leadership in the Movie Seabiscuit
Traditionally, analysis on roles for effective leadership surround corporate or military settings with clearly defined problems, discernable issues, and areas where hypothesis can be made, models formed, predictions tested, and outcomes verified. Analyzing a film like Seabiscuit for the roles of leadership present many interesting questions about leadership and what it means to be a leader. The film Seabiscuit chronicles the lives of individuals as they become intertwined to produce an outcome, training a horse to race. At what point do individuals stop seeing themselves, in their daily lives, as individuals and begin seeing themselves as members of groups having to take on leadership and followership roles? I contend that all of the main characters in the movie are active learners, which are foundations to great leadership, but Charles Howard is the primary protagonist of the film. His leadership is borderless between business and personal experiences, constantly driving the group's success. In order to better understand our characters, it is important to understand some of the definitions of leadership, as applied to our characters. According to Max DePree (1987) in his article, "What is Leadership?" he states: "The signs of outstanding leadership appear primarily among the followers. Are the followers reaching their potential? Are they learning? Serving? Do they achieve the required results? Do they change with grace? Manage conflict?" (cited in Business Leadership, 2003, pp. 65-66) In the outset of the film we see; Tom Smith riding on the open range chasing and lassoing a wild horse with great skill, Charles Howard having left the Ford plant back east, opened a bike shop in San Francisco, as luck should have it a car breaks down in front of his shop, which he not only fixes, but makes improvements, drawing him to selling cars and becoming successful at it, and John "Red" Pollard as a young man deftly learning the...
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