Organizational Development and Leadership in the Cinema
American cinema can be not only entertaining but educational as well, offering metaphors for the concepts of coaching and consulting from an organizational development perspective. Two films in particular in which to gain insights into these concepts are The Legend of Bagger Vance and 12 Angry Men. Both films address the concepts of coaching and consulting from two very different perspectives. One aspect deals with coaching in a very encouraging nature while assisting one to accomplish a specific goal with a direct skill set and assists enhancing a that skill. The coaching is very personal and is always about the individual at hand. On the consulting side, the person or group is being advised on the answers they are seeking and being provided the solutions needed to obtain a very specific result. The consultant is there to advise and provide answers. The two movies that are addressed this week provide a glimpse into the roles into each and focus on how both work to serve as valuable resources.
In modern context, a coach aids an individual in the pursuit of their personal goals. Janice Dexter, Graham Dexter, and Judi Irving (2011) define coaching as a dynamic and self-generating process in which the coachee works to harness and develop their skills to reach and maintain their maximum performance (p. 4). The Legend of Bagger Vance (2000) is set in the south during the start of the Great Depression. After winning the Medal of Honor during a battle in World War I, Rannulph Junuh returns to his hometown of Savannah to live as a recluse. Several years after his return, Junuh is invited to play in an exhibition golf match with two of the best golfers of the time. Having been a promising golfer before the war, Junuh realizes that he has lost his technique and is unable to play as he did in the past. As described in An Introduction to Coaching (2011), Erik Erikson’s theory of personality development and identity formation explains that we go through stages in our development. Junuh is stuck in the generativity versus stagnation stage with his defeatist attitude towards life. Bagger Vance arrives mysteriously out of the darkness and begins to instruct Junuh on the basics of the game; Vance breaks Junuh out of his stagnation, brings back his self-confidence, and sets him on the right path.
In contrast to coaches, consultants pursue change for the benefit of the organization rather than the development of individuals. In the movie 12 Angry Men (1957), a comparison can be made between the operation of the jury and an organization with Juror #8, portrayed by Henry Fonda, taking on a consultant role during the final deliberations of the murder trial. The jury represents the attitudes that are present in an organization’s members during times of organizational change; the feelings of resistance to changing processes that contradict the normal operation of the organization is represented by the initial decision of a “guilty” verdict by the eleven jurors. According to Maister, Green, and Galford (2000), a consultant must develop the trust of the client through engagement, listening, framing, envisioning, and commitment (p. 86). Juror #8 engages his fellow jurors by stating his indecision on the guilt of the youth; he listens to each of the jurors as they state their reasons for their beliefs of why the youth is guilty. Juror #8 then begins to frame the issues and holes in the evidence and testimony that leads to reasonable doubt for most of the jurors. For the remaining jurors who hold onto the belief of guilt despite the overwhelming holes in the prosecution’s case, Juror #8 offers his vision of why the eyewitnesses may have been mistaken by acting out the scenario of the old man in the downstairs apartment and how he could not have made it to the door in time stated in the testimony or proving that the woman living in the apartment across the EL tracks could not have seen what happened because she was visually impaired without her glasses. By committing to his principles, Juror #8 is able to convince all of the jurors that there is a reasonable doubt of the guilt of the youth and therefore the jury unanimously agrees on the not guilty verdict. A consultant must use these methods to gain the trust of an organization in order to affect organizational change efficiently despite the pressure of the members to resist change.
Both movies offer insight into the world of coaching and consulting. Perhaps the most important lesson to gain from the movies is that trust is the key to fostering relationships as a coach or consultant. By establishing trusting relationships, personal and organizational development can be accomplished successfully for the benefit of the individual and organization.
Dexter, J., Dexter, G., & Irving, J. (2011). An Introduction to Coaching. Los Angeles: SAGE Publications Inc.
Lumet, S. (Director). (1957). 12 Angry Men [Motion Picture].
Maister, D. H., Green, C. H., & Galford, R. M. (2000). The Trusted Advisor. New York: Free Press.
Redford, R. (Director). (2000). The Legend of Bagger Vance [Motion Picture].