The Great Leadership In Remember The Titans
Movies today, and movies from the beginning of time, typically have always had some sort of message or idea(s) the storyline will present to the audience for however the audience may interpret it. Many of these messages have to do with real life problems, concepts and or scenarios that have occurred (documentaries and or docudramas). In one of the best films, in my humble opinion, ever created, produced, and put into production is the movie, “Remember the Titans.” Remember the Titans is not a documentary, per the film, but it is based upon a true story. This is a movie that includes all types of leadership values, shows what makes an effective leader, how a leader deals with challenges, adaptive challenges, ethical decision making, how social context creates difficulties for changes advocated by a leader and how problems are solved by leaders in this movie. The movie Remember the Titans portrays a time in the early 1970’s in a town within the state of Virginia, where race integration comes into play regarding a high school football team. At that time in the world, race tensions were rising, particularly in the south, and it was not common for a male black adult to be a coach in a primarily white race school. Segregation was very active at this time and the movie does not hide this. The movie actually makes it very apparent. Coach Herman Boone, a male black adult played by Denzel Washington, is hired to assist head coach Bill Yoast, a male white adult played by William Patton. Not far into the beginning of the movie, Boone is assigned to become head coach, and Yoast is reassigned to a different coaching role, which only adds more fuel to the racial fire. These two characters in the movie play a pivotal role in the lessons, indicated above and to be explained in the latter, in this movie that correlate with all leadership concepts, change concepts and challenges we learn about in this course
The social environment and context during this time where the movie takes place makes it seem like it’s near impossible for Coach Boone and or Coach Yoast to make the changes they advocate in this movie. The changes they want, and that are portrayed in the movie, is for the society and culture to change and for black and white cultures to come together to play football in harmony. This is not the norm in the society at the time. Ultimately, by the end of the movie, the team comes together, race is negated, and unity/equality on the team is achieved. This occurred because of the movies message being applied to all aspects of the movie, leadership. Leadership is constant throughout the entire movie, and some of the different leadership qualities include coaches and players monitoring while managing differences, coaches treating all players equally and demanding the same performance from each player, and individual(s) holding onto their own personal values and not compromising to try and conform to others. Other leadership portrayed and messages sent by the movie that are similar to leadership concepts in this course include Coach Boone showing the players to focus on a bigger picture goal and not individual agendas but at the same time focusing on individuals growing themselves, and also coaches and players knowing when to step up to leadership roles and when to step back and allow players to police and check one another. This is also a great example of how they deal with adaptive changes , ethical decision making models and change strategy in problem solving situations.
Coach Boone and Coach Yoast illustrate principles and practices to be followed by all change leaders in organizations. In the movie Coach Boone, and Coach Yoast, are both faced with the race discrimination between the white and black players. The tensions are apparent from both sides, however the discrimination is primarily focused from the white players and community towards the black community. This was a problem not only in schools and sports at this time, but also in organizations worldwide. The coaches, and the players, overcome this race discrimination difference ultimately, and they manage their differences in a positive healthy manner while also teaching others to do the same. Organizations need to adapt to changes and focus their energy towards harmony and not opposition. The fact that the coaches were able to do this shows incredible leadership skills as well as the ability to solve almost unfathomable challenges.
Another incredible challenge and change advocated by the leaders in the movie Remember the Titans, as indicated above, is demanding non discriminating excellence from each player, regardless of race, and also holding onto one’s values without being influenced by others. Both coaches, Coach Boone and Coach Yoast, expect excellence from each player regardless of any differences. They’re forgiving when need be, and they are harsh when need be. Ultimately though, they are fair leaders to all. As Coach Boone once says to all the players during the movie, “We will be perfect in every aspect of the game. You drop a pass, you run a mile. You miss a blocking assignment, you run a mile. You fumble the football, and I will break my foot off in your John Brown hind parts and then you will run a mile. Perfection. Let’s go to work (Bruckheimer, 2000).” He says this to all of his players, not just one individual. Coach Boone holds onto his values of leadership, fairness, strength, courage, compassion, and also integrity throughout the entire movie. He also teaches others, including Coach Yoast, to do the same. It is a very powerful message as well as an experience while watching the movie. It is truly unlike any other leadership display I have ever seen, and it is not only motivating, but it is also encouraging to replicate his leadership traits and concepts into my own leadership skills.
An additional example in the movie that is reflective of leadership concepts in our class is when Coach Boone brings his players and Coach Yoast to the Battle of Gettysburg grounds. The Battle of Gettysburg, as I learned in school long ago, was one of the most significant battles of the Civil War. This was also one of the bloodiest, and the battle that was a turning point in civilization to end slavery. This is one of the most moving scenes, in my humble opinion, in the movie. He takes his team and coach there to talk to them about this battle. While at this location he tells them, “50,000 men died right here on this field fighting this same fight that we’re still fighting amongst ourselves today. Take a lesson from the dead. If we don’t come together right now on this hallowed ground, we too, will be destroyed (Bruckheimer, 2000).” In this quote, Cocach Boone is telling his players that they, and society, needs to move past racial discrimination, or else the previous battle and all that we as a world have worked for will be lost and all the previous battles/death will have been for nothing. Coach Boone shows his leadership wisdom here, which shows that he has likely had experience, education and training as a leader.
Lastly, but certainly not the last leadership trait and or concept in the movie reflecting leadership concepts learned in our class, is the display of all coaches and teammates growing as individuals in the movie as well as stepping up when it’s time to lead and stepping back when a leader knows he should let other leaders lead. Regarding helping individuals grow individually, Coach Boone enables his players to grow not only as football players on the field, but also as human beings off of the field. This is important for leaders to lead their teams, groups, or organizations not only when it comes to the subject matter at hand, but also in their own personal lives (if they can). It shows strong leadership qualities if a member of an organization, group or team is taken so much by a leader that they also want to bring the leaders lessons into their personal lives. Furthermore, Coach Boone shows amazing leadership traits and concepts, reflective of leadership qualities taught in this class, when he allows his two team captains to settle their differences between one another. By doing this, and by the team watching the team captains come together, lessons are taught to and learned by the rest of the team.
Ultimately, Coach Boone was the definition of a true leader in the movie, Remember the Titans. That being said, and the fact that this movie is based upon a true story, it is apparent that Coach Boone was a leader in life off of the screen at the time this story was live in action in the world. Coach Boone showed traits and concepts of leadership that one would hope every leader would possess and practice. As a result of Coach Boone’s leadership, among others also in the movie, he likely not only helped changed lives locally, but also statewide and ultimately nationally. One could only hope to be as good of a leader as Coach Boone.
- Bruckheimer, B. Y. (Director). (2000). Remember the Titans [Motion Picture].
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