Evaluation of Erin Brockovich Leadership

Topics: Leadership, Ethics, Ethical leadership Pages: 5 (1744 words) Published: October 21, 2012
It takes a very strong, dedicated leader to take the road less traveled by in order to stand behind what they believe is right or wrong. The easy route may seem more appealing to most because there is no challenge and you can almost always predict the outcome. Dr. Ronald W. Roskens, an internationally known and respected leader, gave a speech titled, Ethical Leaders: The Wide and Easy Way, and stated, “Leaders can choose the easy way out, or they can attempt to apply ethics to their decisions and actions. True leaders are principled individuals, who assume their positions because they have earned the respect and, in certain sense, the allegiance of others.” This is the perfect definition of an ethical leader. Julia Roberts portrays Erin Brockovich in the self-titled movie, as a young woman striving for excellence for the common good of the community. She takes the road less traveled by and is not scared of a little challenge, she will continue her fight until things are settled and made right. Erin Brockovich is not what you’d imagine a leader to be, she in uneducated, mother of 3, broke, and twice divorced. Don’t let that fool you because she proves leaders can come from all backgrounds by spearheading a job that most would just ignore because it is too much work and too messy. She is the type of leader Dr. Roskens describes in his quote. Erin Brockovich proves that leaders need to know the difference between right and wrong, and must contain the art of persuasion, the determination to see things through, courage of conviction, and most of all, heart.

The Social Change Model of Leadership Development consists of seven critical values: consciousness of self, congruence, commitment, collaboration, common purpose, controversy with civility, and citizenship (Astin, 1994). We see these seven values within Erin Brockovich throughout the entire movie. One scene that offers a lot of these values is when Erin is trying to convince lawyer, Ed Masery, to take on the expansion of the case against PG&E. Ed is reluctant at first but with persuasion, an argument, and Erin’s persistence he finally agrees it is the right thing to do. Erin is conscious of herself and her values. She has learned that PG&E is poisoning people and her values are not allowing her to ignore it. With that, she is being congruent with her actions by trying to convince Ed Masery that expanding the case is the right thing to do. Erin instills commitment by not giving up when Ed tells her absolutely not. She will not give up on the expansion in this scene until Ed finally agrees to it. Collaboration is apparent in this scene because she is asking for the assistance of Ed to represent the other families in the lawsuit. Since she is not a lawyer, she needs Ed’s help to succeed and vice versa. Erin and Ed have a common purpose, and that is to expand the PG&E lawsuit. Controversy with civility occurs in this scene because Erin is not afraid to call Ed out on not wanting to work a little harder. They have a brief argument but they manage to talk through it and reach the common goal of expansion. And lastly, citizenship is very apparent in this scene as well. Erin pours her heart out about the well being of the citizens and her willingness to work harder and put more effort in to create a better society for them. Servant leadership is leadership in which the leader transcends self-interest to serve the needs of others, helps others grow, and provide opportunities for other to gain materially and emotionally (Daft, 2008). Erin is a great example of servant leadership. She will not gain anything if the people of Hinkley have poisonous or safe water, she is doing this all for them to gain better health and money to compensate for all of their medical bills. Yes, she is getting a paycheck out of it but she invested so much time and energy when she could have been doing the bare minimum at a different job. She chose to further investigate the case...

References: Astin, H. S., & Astin, A. W. (1996). A Social Change Model of Leadership Development
Guidebook Version III (p
Daft, R. L. (2008). The Leadership Experience (5th ed., pp. 174-180). Mason, OH: South-
Western Cengage Learning.
Hoyk, R., & Hersey, P. (2008). The Ethical Executive: Becoming Aware of the Root Causes of
Unethical Behavior: 45 Psychological Traps that Every One of Us Falls Prey To.
Josephson, M. (2002). Making ethical decisions. Los Angeles, CA: Josephson Institute of Ethics
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