Path- Goal Leadeship Theory and Expectancy Theory of Motivation- Applications to the Movie- “Miracle” Part 1
I have chosen the movie “ Miracle” as an illustration of an individual, Herb Brooks, fulfilling the parameters of Robert House’s Path-Goal Theory . There are events that one witnesses throughout one’s life that for various reasons leave an indelible imprint on one’s heart and soul. The unexpected victory of the US hockey over the heavily favored Russian team in the 1980 Olympic Games was one of those events. I was at a cocktail party and someone turned on the TV and soon the entire group was gathered around the set, small talk forgotten, as what has been described as the greatest sporting event of the 20th century unfolded. The country was still recovering from the negative effects of the Vietnam War, a weak Jimmy Carter presidency , and enduring a low point in national pride and optimism as Japan and Germany seemed to be gaining control of the world economy as our military dominance seemed to be slipping away. As the final buzzer rang and the “ Do you believe in Miracles? “ issued from the TV, you could feel the surge in national pride and optimism that swept through our little group and of course throughout the whole country. Herb Brooks supplies an extraordinary example of a positive example of Houses’ path -goal theory, which basically states that the leader’s, manager’s, or in this example the coach’s mission is to guide his subordinates to follow the best paths to reach their goals. According to the theory , the leader employs a variety of leadership behaviors( directive, achievement-oriented , participative, and supportive) to accomplish his mission. The theory also postulates that each behavior type was affected by contingency variables, environmental and follower characteristics. The movie afforded a clear picture of the flexibility required by a leader as he guides and inspires his group to achieve their common goal by successfully applying the following four diverse leadership behaviors: 1) Brooks employed directive path- goal leader behavior (“situations where the leader lets followers know what is expected of them and tells them how to perform their task”.-Wikipedia) throughout the majority of the film. After the tryouts Coach Brooks immediately sets the tone of his coaching regime by informing his assistant and eventually the Olympic Hockey advisory board that he would not consult either of them when deciding the make-up of the squad. He had basically done extensive homework on all of the players, most of whom he was familiar with through his college experience. Brooks also makes it well known that he is “not looking for the best players but the right players.” This statement sets the tone for the rest of the movie. As a seasoned coach Brooks recognizes that the best path to success lies in building a real team, whose whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and clearly avoids choosing a dysfunctional dream team. This example also exemplifies the effect of an environmental contingency factor on leader behavior (directive) as Brooks recognizes and effectively chooses behavior that will deal with the formal authority system (Olympic hockey board) and allow him to implement his coaching strategies without interference. A second example of Brook’s use of directive leadership techniques is demonstrated by his frequently asking the players , “ Who do you play for?”. Early on in the film , they uniformly reply with the names of their college teams, demonstrating, as Brooks has recognized, that they are still a group of competitive young men and not a team. He continually challenges them, especially after a fight between former collegiate rivals , to start becoming a team and to depend upon “flow , passing , and creativity”-“Who do you play for?”. This example flows into the third example his strong directive leadership abilities when after an exhibition loss to the Swedish national team,...
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