Leadership Is Critical in Today’s Society

Topics: Leadership, Apollo 13, Apollo 11 Pages: 5 (2003 words) Published: September 12, 2011
Leadership is critical in today’s society. Examples of leadership can be seen in almost everything including movies and TV. One such example is the portrayal of leadership in the movie, “Apollo 13.” This movie captures the leadership of Jim Lovell and Gene Kranz on their quest to land the Apollo successfully.

The movie begins with Jim Lovell as the primary leader. Since his team has worked together for so long, they have great group cohesion and non-verbal communication cues. They have learned to depend on each other over the years and are able to pick up on and adapt to the little things reflected in their team members’ voices (Hallowell et al., 1995). My first thoughts on Jim were that he is very dedicated, diligent and optimistic. He has an inherent passion for exploring space, which lends to his hard work and dedication. At one point Jim comments, “Anything is possible” (Hallowell et al., 1995). This comment allows Jim to plant confidence in his team, but another more powerful tool that Jim uses to inspire others is storytelling. From our readings, storytelling is one of the best ways to motivate people (McKee, 2003, 52).

However, Jim’s optimism is challenged several times throughout the movie. The first challenge is the decision whether to take a crewmember whom the doctors claimed will get sick during the flight or leave the crewmember behind (Hallowell et al., 1995). He was left with only 3 choices: take Ken (the potentially sick team member) while risk his health and the health of the entire team, wait for a later mission, or replace Ken and take the mission as scheduled. Choosing the later mission meant missing important family time and forfeiting his only chance to get to the moon (Hallowell et al., 1995). Since sacrificing the health of the entire team was too risky, Jim chose to replace Ken on the mission team (Hallowell et al., 1995). Making this decision was not easy for Jim since he was the one who ultimately ended up telling Ken that he could not go (Hallowell et al., 1995). To me this illustrates one of Jim’s best leadership abilities: the ability to make the decision that would put the whole team in the least amount of harm, even if this means that he must replace a respected and trusted co-worker. He has the guts to make the hard decisions.

But, replacing Ken wasn’t that easy because the replacement was not familiar with the workings of the other team members or vice versa. Jim feels uncomfortable with Ken’s replacement, Jack, and micromanages him initially in order to make sure he will be able to handle the mission.

Jim’s optimism was again challenged once the Apollo was in space and bad things started to happen. Once things started to breakdown, Jim had them check everything and be proactive in sustaining the remaining functions Apollo (Hallowell et al., 1995). Things got tough, but he was still able to spout off clear orders and keep the team together. He kept a stiff upper lip after learning that his dream of landing on the moon is unattainable. He still kept his head, and while he is sad about not getting to the moon, he does not let it get in the way of making the important decisions. Jim directs the team by giving orders the entire rest of the trip. Things get so tense and stressful that Fred begins yelling at Jack for all the things that went wrong (Hallowell et al., 1995). Jim steps in as the leader to remind them that if they don’t work together they will all die (Hallowell et al., 1995). Throughout the many things that go wrong, Jim is able to hold on to hope that they will get home safely. In order to lift the spirits of his distraught peers, Jim tells them that when they land, “It’ll be 90 degrees out there” (Hallowell et al., 1995). This helps them visualize where they are going and try to ease some of their nerves. Towards the very end, Jim must convince the sickly Fred that they will make it home and he will get better (Hallowell et al., 1995)....

Cited: Goleman, Daniel (March 2000). Leadership That Gets Results [Electronic Version]. Harvard Business Review, 78-90.
Grazer, Brian, Todd Hallowell and Aldric Porter (Producers) & Hallowell, Todd and Ron Howard (Directors). (1995). Apollo 13 [Motion Picture]. United States: Universal Pictures.
McKee, Robert (June 2003). Storytelling That Moves People [Electronic Version]. Harvard Business Review, 51-55.
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