OrgBehav- Leadership and Decision-making

Stephanie Martinez - August 1, 2015
PA720 – Prof. No - Assignment 3b – Leadership – Remember the Titans
In the movie, Remember the Titans (2000), Herman Boone is hired to be head
football coach at T.C. Williams High School in Virginia in 1971, where racial
integration in schools has recently taken place. There are 3 main obstacles and
organizational culture changes, mostly due to racism, that the coach and the football
team must face. First, Boone (African American) takes the job from the current head
coach, Bill Yoast (Caucasian) and this incites the current players to threaten to quit
the team; second, many players don’t want to play with teammates of the other race
even though Boone’s goal is to create a winning integrated black and white team;
and third, much of the community, including members of the School Board, are
opposed to Boone as the new coach, and/or opposed to an integrated football team.
According to Rainey (2000), in order to enhance cultural development, an
effective leader should fully understand the culture and use the knowledge to enable
change. In this case, Boone understood the culture he was coming in to and used
leadership strategies outlined by Rainey (2000, p. 361-2) that led to the growth of a
winning team. These included clear expectations, role modeling, use of historical
events/stories for inspiration, and developing a motto – “Remember the Titans”.
In addition to the strategies above, Boone characterizes qualities of a
charismatic leader, and more specifically, he fits the self-concept theory of
charismatic leadership. Rainey states in Understanding and Managing Public
Organizations (2014), “charismatic leaders invoke qualities such as confidence,
loyalty and commitment from followers” (p. 352). Rainey explains that leaders who
fall into this theory instill in their followers five things: belief in them as leaders,
willingness to follow the leader, connectedness to the mission, acceptance of goals
that require high performance, and finally ability to see the leader as being
extraordinary (p. 352).
These five things are witnessed throughout the movie, which help Boone
overcome his 3 main obstacles: First, while at football camp, Boone is able to get
black and white players to work together after vigorous drills, team-building tasks,
and inspirational speeches; later, after winning all season, he finally gains the
support of the community, which is seen when he arrives home after a game and is
cheered by his neighbors; next, after his home is vandalized, Boone still shows up on
game night seemingly unaffected, and the players assemble a team chant for the
audience in a show of solidarity; and finally, when the school board threatens to fire
Boone and tries to rig the final game, his assistant coach, Yoast, stands in unity with
Boone by calling out the referees and school board on behalf of Boone and the team.
In the end, Boone proves to be a powerful and inspiring leader to his players,
and the team goes on to win the championship. However, in the movie, he does lack
connection with his players, something that The Ohio State Leadership Studies
called “consideration”, and The Blake and Mountain Managerial Grid stated was
integral to good leadership (Rainey, 2000, p. 337-8). Whether his form of leadership
would work in public or nonprofit organizations is debatable. Rainey (2000) points
to historical research on effective leaders such as J. Edgar Hoover and Robert Moses,
who break through overwhelming bureaucracy that often plague these agencies to
build effective organizations through skill and ambition (p. 372-3). Perhaps in the
right situation, Boone’s skills as leader could be effective in public or nonprofits.