When I think about the ideal leader, I think of a charismatic, morally correct, and supportive one. This leadership type is known as transformational, where leaders empower their followers, become role models, and create visions (PSU, WC L.10). Transformational leadership is shown in the movie Dead Poets Society, starring Robin Williams who plays John Keating, the new English teacher at a highly regarded and strict all boy’s prep school. Most of the teachers at the prep school are “do as I say” type and force tons of homework on the boys each day. However, Mr. Keating’s approach to school is way more lackadaisical, in fact he tells the students to forget about homework.
Like previously mentioned, transformational leader is charismatic, and right from the jump the boys adore the nonconforming teacher, who starts off his teaching his first lesson by standing on the desk. This way, Mr. Keating energizes the room and demands their attention in a surprising way. Charismatic leaders characteristics include dominance, strong desire to influence others, and self-confidence (PSU, WC L.10). By this part in the film, Mr. Keating has already established his dominance and self-confidence. Throughout the film he portrays his strong desire to influence others by use of his motto “Carpe Diem,” or seize the day, encouraging the boys to break out the prep schools norms and stray away from what their parents want for them to make the most of their life.
Furthermore, transformational leaders spark inspirational motivation and intellectual stimulation (PSU, WC L.10). These leaders also empower their followers and create visions for them, as previously mentioned (PSU, WC L.10). This is shown in the movie when one of the boys, named Todd, originally struggled with opening up enough to write poetry for the English class. Mr. Keating encourages and supports him to open up, inspiring Todd to write a phenomenal poem. Later in the movie Todd even opens up to Mr. Keating and the other boys about his family problems. Mr. Keating also inspired another student to audition for a theatre role which he landed. Mr. Keating was a great leader because he was future oriented and built trust with his students through his moral conviction (PSU, WC L.10).
By the end of the movie, seize the day eventually gets taken out the hand and the boys find themselves in a lot of trouble for being reckless. One of the boys was taken out of the prep school and forced to go to a strict military school, but before arrival he shoots himself. Mr. Keating is fired and to blame for the suicide due to his radical ways of teaching and at first the boys use him as a scapegoat. However, Mr. Keating’s transformational leadership is shown at the end of the movie when the boys stand on their desks in solidarity, just as Mr. Keating did in his first teaching lesson.
Pennsylvania State University. (2019). PSYCH 485. Leadership in Work Settings. Transformational Leadership. https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1975088/modules/items/25786883