“Twelve Angry Men”
NCLC 375: Prof. Ampthor
The movie “Twelve Angry Men” is about twelve male jurors, brought together in a deliberation room to decide whether a boy is guilty of killing his father. The deliberation starts with an 11-1 vote for guilty. As the movie progresses, the one man who had a reasonable doubt about the guilt or innocent of the young boy, convinces the other members of the jury to question the facts presented. This paper examines the application of leadership concepts in the characters of each juror. Throughout the movie several leaders evolved, the main one being Juror #8, the man who stood alone from the get go with a not-guilty verdict. There may be varying perspectives on the theories of leadership evident in the movie, but the underlying principle is the same: A leader is someone who moves a group of people toward a common goal by means of social influence. Henry Fonda (Juror #8) illustrates important principles of leadership and influence in which the right person can lead group members to achieve a common goal, yet go through positive individual changes. Leaders are defined by two separate characteristics; those who are appointed as the leader and those with no special title that emerge as influential. According to Peter G. Northouse in his book, Leadership: Theory and Practice”, leadership is a process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal. It also states that “Influence is the sine qua non of leadership; without influence, leadership does not exist” (3). Leadership is influence and Juror #8 is a perfect example. He was able to influence his fellow jurors to see as he saw and change the vote to not guilty even though it was a long and arduous process. In the movie, Juror #8 portrays a character that gains respect by others for emerging as a leader. He takes pride in the fact that he believes different than the other jurors, and does not let the fact that he is the “minority” inhibit him from trying to change the opinions of the other jurors.
The movie opens with the jurors casting guilty votes to determine a thoughtless verdict. All eleven jurors, except one (Juror #8) voted guilty. As a viewer watching this movie, you have to give the character consideration since he decided to go against the norm and vote not guilty. This is a deviant trait, however, this deviant trait leads into an emerging leadership that the other characters respect. As a leader, Juror #8 stands out for various reasons. One of the most prominent is at the beginning of the movie. He begins to display task-oriented approach by offering up a new idea to the group. In this case, it was the idea of the boy being not guilty. Although the men were upset with him, the thought had crossed their mind long enough to realize he may be right. By offering up his opinion and a new suggestion, he opened the door for the other jurors. This then creates new options and processes for the group to explore. However, this also created tension and power struggles. Juror #8’s point was that he had no substantial evidence to prove that he knew the boy was not guilty, but he had enough doubt to make the claim. For example, juror #8 is constantly ridiculed by the smaller minded of the jurors: the bigot or the sports fan. Others, however, are more open-minded and are curious to hear what he has to say. The old man (Juror #9) displayed a supportive style. For example, the old man sitting next to Fonda seemed to be the most intrigued by Fonda, simply because he had the courage to be different. In the beginning, certain traits, such as his aggressiveness or persuasiveness, may have identified juror #8 as a leader. However, he begins to emerge as the leader by elaborating on what every juror was trying to say or making suggestions to keep the group focused. Toward the...
Bibliography: Dirks, Tim. “12 Angry Men.” Movie Reviews. April 2011
Northouse, Peter G. Leadership Theory and Practice. New Delhi:Sage Publications, 2004.
Tom Rath, Barry Conchie .”Strengths-Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow”. Publication, 2009.
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