Leadership Analysis: Coach Carter

December 26, 2010 Leadership Theories Dr. Yuval Kalish Submitted By: Olga Rubanovskaya Lara Khamis Natalie Peled Talia Schmidt Shiri Franco

and must wear jackets and ties on game days. Coach Carter sets strict new rules for the team in the form of contracts. But. the contract states that each player must maintain a 2. Carter´s team loses the game by one point. Coach Carter receives the poor academic reports of the team. gets to work and starts to gain their respect. Eventually. after bringing up their grades. the Richmond High School basketball coach. the team makes it to the state highschool championship playoffs. He then cracks down on the team. the school board can't force them to play. he sets goals for the team. we analyze the movie according to two main leadership theories: the Situational Leadership Theory and the Full Range Model of leadership. must attend classes." In the movie Kenneth Carter takes a job coaching the Richmond Oilers high school basketball team. but nonetheless. The story of this basketball team was made into a movie by the name of "Coach Carter.3 grade point average. In this paper. We begin by presenting the theories and continue by analyzing the movie according to each.In 1999. Under the tutelage of Coach Carter the team goes on to win multiple consecutive games. The players point out that even though the gym is reopened. He discovers the players to be unruly and disrespectful. . The school board and the parents fight back against Carter s actions and manage to remove the locks off of the gym doors. thus demonstrating the application of these theories to the leadership style of the main character in the movie. After the team wins a few games. made headlines for benching his undefeated team due to poor academic results. Coach Carter. the real victory was ultimately won: in a school that only graduated about 50% of its students (of which only 6% went to college). Coach Carter succeeded in his ultimate goal of coaching student athletes (as opposed to just athletes) and proving to his team of players that the dream of going to college was not so farfetched. Ken Carter. locks them out of the gym in the midst of the still undefeated season. Despite the Oilers' strong efforts to win the game. when he arrives at the gym he finds the players sitting at school desks. and makes the team spend practice time studying in the library. six of Carter's players graduated and even went on to college. to much surprise. studying. Despite losing the championship game.

subordinates are categorized by the follower s maturity or readiness. SLT defines the maturity of readiness of followers as the extent to which people have the ability and willingness to accomplish a specific task 1. Shreekumar 2 Situational Leadership K. in turn. and most optimal. Finally. but is now willing to complete the task and commits to doing what is in his/her power to do so. the type of leadership is contingent upon the kind of subordinate managed. skill level or level of motivation. but has no desire to do so. is structured and influenced by situational factors. http://www.experiencefestival. each situation where leadership is apparent. According to SLT. the fourth. which makes it most challenging for the leader to manage. Hersey and Blanchard s (1969) Situational Leadership Theory (SLT) best describes 4 different types of subordinates and.. The third level is different from the first two levels in that the subordinate has the ability and is capable of completing the task.The Blanchard and Hersey Model: (Encyclopedia II). Some of the most influential situational factors include the type of subordinates that the leader manages. in Hersey and Blanchard s theory.Able & Unwilling D4 . Therefore.com/a/Situational_leadership_theory__The_Blanchard_and_Hersey_Model/id/2117929 .Able & Willing 1 Nair. Theory . The Situational Leadership Theory is a subcategory of Contingency Theories. Leadership Styles and Effectiveness of Managers in a Public Sector Enterprise. Contingency theories explain that subordinates vary based on numerous factors such as age. The first level occurs when the subordinate is both unable and unwilling to complete the task at hand. The theory divides followers ability and readiness into four levels. the type of leadership necessary for each type of the subordinates to obtain optimal results. gender.According to the Situational Leadership Theory. developmental level occurs when the subordinate is both able and willing to complete the Followers 4 Levels of Development D1 .Unable & Unwilling D2 .Unable & Willing D3 . The second level occurs when the subordinate is still unable to complete the task. also known as Development Levels2.

the leader must create specific tasks for the subordinates and supervise them closely. Consequently. http://www.task at hand.. 4 Nair.The Blanchard and Hersey Model: (Encyclopedia II). Shreekumar K. 5 Situational Leadership Theory .Coaching S3. Leadership Styles and Effectiveness of Managers in a Public Sector Enterprise (Abhigyan.Supporting S4. 2009). therefore. monitor and control the activities of their subordinates and the relationship behavior is defined by the extent to which leaders maintain personal relationships with their subordinates by indulging in open communication and by providing emotional support 4. The leader uses the coaching style with subordinates who are unable and willing.Directing S2. furthermore. The delegating style gives the subordinates full control over the decisions and tasks (because they are both able and willing) and. The third approach is the supporting approach. there are also four types of leadership styles applicable to each of subordinate types. Leadership Styles and Effectiveness of Managers in a Public Sector Enterprise (Abhigyan. respectively. this situation gives the subordinates the opportunity to make certain decisions with the guidance of the leader because subordinates are unwilling.com/a/Situational_leadership_theory__The_Blanchard_and_Hersey_Model/id/2117929 . organize. 2009).3 It is important to note that after recognizing the type of subordinate the leader is working with in the situation. supporting (participating) and delegating5. The leader s task behavior is defined by the extent to which leaders plan. coaching (selling). the subordinates give their opinions and input as well. Due to the fact that the leader must adapt to the subordinates. The directing leadership style is used with subordinates who are unable and unwilling to participate.Delegating completely on their own.experiencefestival. the leader must choose his/her leadership style based on the developmental level of the subordinate. gives them the authority to decide when and how the leader should be 3 Nair.. but still able to complete tasks and make decisions 4 Types of Leadership Styles S1. in this situation the communication is two-ways and although the leader still creates tasks and supervises. The final leadership style is the delegating style. These leadership styles are directing (telling). task and relationship. Shreekumar K. he/she then bases his/her type of leadership upon two factors.

but rather decide to cope with it. They do not accept the Coach s vision. However. Coach Carter does not even try to prevent him from leaving through the use of logical arguments or trying to appeal to Cruz. such as Fiedler s LPC Theory. He adopts the telling leadership style to make sure everyone. They were given . Coach Carter is highly focused on the task at hand and is doing everything possible to achieve it. the other members of the team are either too intimidated to leave or just decide to accept the new reality. His followers were both unable and unwilling to complete the task at hand and did not want to voluntarily comply with the contract they had signed. However. the interaction between the leader (Coach Carter) and his followers (the team) is seen. Cruz. The ability to change one s leadership style has proven to be one of the most influential and important progressions in leadership development. In the scene it is apparent that the team responds to his behavior in a very harsh manner.involved in the process. At this point. the only way Coach Carter tries to motivate his basketball players is by taking punitive measures such as closing the gym for training. Instead. According to the Situational Leadership theory. regardless of his motivation levels and ability. even goes as far as quitting the team due to his disappointment with the Coach s decision and his lack of understanding of Coach Carter s motives. Unlike other leadership theories. One of the players. nor does he try to explain why maintaining a certain GPA will be beneficial to him and his teammates. they are completely unwilling to cooperate with the Coach and do not share his vision. the Coach just warns Cruz that he is making a mistake and that by leaving the room he is losing his place on the team. In the scene chosen. He is determined to turn his team into successful student athletes and has secured the support of other teachers to help them achieve the goal. adopting the telling leadership style was the best thing Coach Carter could have done in the situation. Hersey and Blanchard s SLT believes that leaders can change their leadership style. is working towards improving his GPA or helping his teammates do so. The first part of the scene shows Coach Carter reprimanding the team for violating the rules of the contract they signed in the beginning of the season.

In this instance. He first pushes his followers to change their attitude using the telling style and then adjusts his behavior accordingly to fit his leadership style to the new situation. the theory would suggest that the best thing Coach Carter could have done is adopt a delegating leadership style staying involved in the process but permitting the followers to take ownership and responsibility for their decisions and actions. They no longer need the Coach to tell them what to do and how to do it. micro management and intimidation but it is not usually possible to change their attitude to the task at hand and inspire them to voluntarily join in the project and accept the vision simply through these means. Therefore. . They have taken the initiative and started making decisions by themselves.the opportunity to improve their GPA by themselves. It is possible to make the team perform better through force. however. The scene does not just show the change in the behavior of the followers. Moreover. The scene shows how this is true when the Coach s attitude yields results the team decides not to play basketball until their GPA is up to standard even though nothing is stopping them from doing so. Coach Carter adjusts his behavior according to the maturity level of his followers. It can only explain part of the transition how the followers became much more able during the course of the scene. make the team members more willing? In this paper we argue that the telling style alone cannot be accountable for a change in the attitudes of the followers. adopting any other style would have been a mistake and even explaining to the team the importance of having a decent GPA and motivating them through logical arguments would not have yielded the best results. energized and inspired. however. in the second part of the scene an amazing transformation in the members of the team is seen: instead of being unmotivated. The Situational Leadership Theory also states that a leader s high but realistic expectation leads to high performance of the followers. according to the theory. bitter and lazy they have become driven. only half the team did so. The theory fails to fully explain the change in the attitude of the followers. but also the transition in the leader s behavior. By adopting the telling style the Coach made the whole team study hard and perform better. Could adopting the telling style.

then. The Full Range Model (FRM) is considered one of the most modern leadership theories. R. made all of the team members completely change their attitudes and become much more willing and accept responsibility for their actions? What made Cruz. management by exception (divided into passive and active). MBE ² passive & active 3. the lowest form of leadership also known as a non-leader. the rebel of the group. and how effective or ineffective they are in performing their tasks and working with their followers. and Dennison. The theory serves as a framework for the analysis of various leadership styles.7 Laissez-Faire. As a result of this leadership style. Transactional leadership suggests that followers are encouraged by a system of punishment and rewards..6 The FRM can often be viewed as a ladder of leadership styles and is divided into two leadership types: transactional leadership and transformational leadership. Gosling. come back to the team after firmly making up his mind and leaving the team forever? These questions will be answered through the analysis of the Full Range Leadership Model. A Review of leadership Theory And Competency Framework. A considerable amount of research has been conducted on the theory itself and on its validation worldwide. the leader is uninvolved with the subordinates and offers them no clear goals.Therefore. expectations or concern. What. occurs when the leader avoids taking responsibilities and making decisions. Marturano. The Model s analysis is based on two main criteria: how active or inactive the leaders are in fulfilling their roles. Transactional Leadership of FRM 1. the leadership style alone cannot lead to a transformation among the followers. J. Dansford. Therefore. These processes are further marked by situations in which both parties show interest in one another for one purpose .P13. Transactional leadership consists of three levels of leadership: laissez-faire. Transactional Leadership is a leadership style based on a mutual relation between a leader and the subordinate. and contingent reward. UK: 2003. meaning that both the leader and the follower have something to offer one another.an exchange of benefits. 7 . A. Laissez-Faire 2. Contingent Reward 6 Bolden.

subordinates of MBE passive and active leaders react to their leaders through fear of the leaders reaction in a situation where something goes wrong. A Review of leadership Theory And Competency Framework. The level of contingent rewards occurs when subordinates are familiar with the organization s goals and are rewarded when they are achieved. R. James MacGreger Burns. MBE active leaders actively monitor subordinates and take corrective actions before the error occurs.P13. transformational leadership is closer to the prototype of leadership that people have in mind when they describe their ideal leader. He further describes that the process activates the subordinate s higher-order needs and increases their awareness of task importance and value. and it is more likely to provide a role model with whom subordinates want to identify. and Dennison. even if it harms the group or organization. Leaders who do not anticipate problems and only react once a problem has occurred are described as MBE passive. And. Marturano.8 Furthermore. who first introduced the concept in his book Leadership . UK: 2003. this idea is different from Burns original concept in that it portrays transformational 8 Bolden.. Dansford.subordinates focus on their personal interests. Management by Exception ( MBE ) is a conservative approach based on managing and taking corrective action. when goals are not met. J. which can be taken either passively or actively. the leader rewards the subordinates and similarly. A. Nonetheless. The highest level a leader can achieve in transactional leadership is contingent rewards. Gosling. who further developed Burns' transformational leadership concept. The second level of transactional leadership is Management by Exception. According to Bernard Bass. The leaders define clear and concise goals and actively participate in the achievement of these goals. When the goals are met. . He referred to this style as a relationship of mutual stimulation and elevation that converts followers into leaders and may convert leaders into moral agents . it is characterized by high effectiveness of the leaders (how effective they are) and their heavy involvement in the process (how active they are). the leader penalizes them. developed the transformational leadership theory.

leaders concentrate on revealing the potential of individuals by providing a supportive environment. focuses more on each of the individual subordinates. inspirational motivation. Marturano. leaders supervise each subordinate separately and guide each according to his/her abilities. Intellectual Stimulation 2. and idealized influence. R. creating new solutions to existing problems. J. individualized consideration. 10 .leadership as a perpetual process between a leader and his/her subordinates. One of the most defining factors of this style is that the leader unites the 9 Bolden. makes subordinates feel that the new goals are achievable. in turn. Dansford. and Dennison. Individualized consideration. Martin Luther King and Abraham Lincoln. and solving their own problems at work. Idealized Influence leadership is intellectual stimulation.10 The lowest level on of transformational Transformational Leadership for FRM 1. A Review of leadership Theory And Competency Framework. they can motivate and inspire them. Gosling.. In these situations. A. Individual Consideration 3.P13. Nelson Mandela. change their attitudes and stimulate the curiosity and development of their subordinates. Intellectual stimulation occurs with leaders who consider his/her subordinates ideas and perspectives. Some famous transformational leaders are Mahatma Ghandi. rather than group as a whole. Leaders also delegate tasks to subordinates tailored specifically to each of their abilities and skill levels. UK: 2003. Transformational Leadership is divided into four elements: intellectual stimulation.9 Transformational leaders have an extraordinary effect on their subordinates. additionally it stretches the limits of what is perceived as possible and. The leader focuses on the subordinates ability to grow intellectually through challenging current processes. using creativity in their work. the second level of transformational leadership. provides a clear vision of the organization s future goals and motivates the subordinates to want to achieve these goals. push them beyond their comfort zone. The third level of transformational leadership. inspirational motivation. Additionally. Inspirational Motivation 4.

An analysis of Coach Carter through the lens of the Full Range Model of Leadership reveals that Coach Carter operates at several levels along the range. employing both transactional and transformational behaviors. In his decision to enact a clear and decisive penalty in response to the breech of agreed-upon . the subordinates are overwhelmed by the leader s charisma and therefore actively support the leader. respect and admire the leader. Over-confident and reeling from an undefeated record of basketball games. Carter proceeds to rattle off a list of dismal academic performance statistics. Gentlemen. Idealized influence describes a situation in which the leader is considered the role model for the subordinates. Our scene begins as the members of the team enter the library. I hold contracts signed by me and signed by you. Straight to business. Leaders who reach this level of leadership also have high ethical and moral standards. while others may stay at one level of leadership indefinitely. In [the other] hand. the highest level on the transformational leadership ladder is idealized influence. or why the gym doors have been chained and locked shut. He determines that the consequence of such a failure is to discontinue basketball practices and lock-down the gym until academic performance is improved. and the subordinates tend to trust. to bring the surprise gathering quickly to order. In doing so. The contracts to which Coach Carter refers were signed by each member as a condition of their participation on the basketball team. in this hand.subordinates personal vision with the organization s vision. In this type of leadership. Coach Carter demonstrates transactional behaviors: contingentreward bordering on MBE-Passive. all of which lead him to conclude that that team has failed to uphold its agreement. and stipulate that the athletes maintain a 2. and wear jackets and ties on game days. I hold academic progress reports filled out by your teachers. team members are surprised to encounter a no-nonsense shout of Quiet! from Coach Carter. Finally. Many leaders can progress along the leadership style ladder. unaware of why their regularly scheduled basketball practice was cancelled. attend all classes. depending on the point of view.3 grade point average. This is the level of leadership that most leaders aspire to reach. ultimately making them work together towards achieving the common goals. Coach Carter begins.

so that we can reach our goals. I m sorry we have failed. We have failed each other. Carter makes clear that team performance outweighs individual performance: just as one player does not score all the points for the team. Carter s address opens with a Sensing orientation.expectations. thus empowering them to achieve this vision. the six players who are failing at least one class and the eight players getting incompletes based on attendance. to get back on the team! This player had initially had to complete a nearly impossible set of . each action has an anticipated consequence. talking the talk. in this case. focusing on the papers in his hand. However. himself included. however. Know that we are a team. the team perceives it as being MBE-Passive. and is part of Coach Carter s persistent overriding vision of uniting his team of student athletes and giving them a chance at a meaningful future. while disregarding the outstanding achievements of the team on the basketball court. as part of his continued embodiment of Idealized Influence walking the walk. optimistic belief that the team can. Coach Carter demonstrates Inspirational Motivation in his unwavering. Coach Carter is being overly critical and is overreacting to a minor fault. and enlists the help of his fellow teachers. a feature of Inspirational Motivation. bear a collective responsibility for its failure to uphold the contracts: Gentlemen. you have failed to uphold no. We observe that Coach Carter respectfully addresses the team as gentlemen and the individuals as sir. Only then does he shift to Intuiting as he discusses broad implications for the team s future. From their perspective. In true charismatic communicative style. one player s high GPA does not exempt him from accountability with regard to the team s academic performance. Coach Carter s perspective is one of contingent-reward: simply put. The impact of Coach Carter s mix of transactional and transformational approaches is epitomized by Cruz's outburst: I killed myself for you. punishment. he reminds them. Sir. the transactional insistence on upholding academic contracts is just a means towards a transformational end. Overall. He insists that the team. successfully meet the terms of their contracts and fully embody the dualrole of student-athletes. with the proper collective focus and external support.

contingent-reward tasks in order to earn his place back on the team. athletic performances and future endeavors. we see the vision actively promoted and shouldered collectively by all team members: they have finally appropriated the vision and begin to pursue it independently of their leader. this model doesn t necessarily help us to understand why these specific behaviors were chosen and not others from the range. Laissez-faire. Coach Carter managed to transform and lead his team toward greatness: in their academic responsibilities. The Full Range Model enables us to dissect and categorize the different elements of Coach Carter s leadership cocktail. or would any combination of transactional and transformational behaviors have sufficed? Is it an arbitrary choice. Inspirational Motivation and Idealized Influence. Individualized Consideration and Intellectual Stimulation are not featured. in our selected scenes. and indicated his best response given this . we see elements of Contingent Reward. Towards the end of our scene. of their own accord. Rather. bought into the vision inspired by Coach Carter s leadership. (Even though the task at hand involved academic pursuit. it is not an embodiment of Intellectual Stimulation. However. choose to use practice time for studying. Contingent-Reward. This would support the case that Coach Carter s choice of leader behaviors were based on his assessment of the followers. which is most notably associated with the idea of encouraging followers to challenge their leaders and think for themselves about how to accomplish tasks. even after the lock-down has been revoked by the School Board. The team members. the behaviors exhibited represent MBEPassive (as perceived by the team). perhaps based on Coach Carter s own comfort zone of behaviors? Or does it have something to do with the situation at hand and the followers in question? It would seem that these questions can best be answered by returning to the Situational Leadership Theory.) With his own special cocktail of leadership behaviors. MBE-Active. Inspirational Motivation and Idealized Influence. and over time. This is the mark of Coach Carter s successful leadership. As noted. we can see that the mix of transactional and transformational leadership behaviors employed by Coach Carter does not span the entire full range model. Ultimately. Was Coach Carter successful because he chose these specific elements.

but it could not make the team members more willing. fails to explain the exact reason why Coach Carter chooses certain leadership styles from both the transactional and transformational ranges. As we have shown in the empirical analysis of the movie. In order to explain this transformation we needed to analyze the movie according to the full range model of leadership. The use of one theory will leave the viewer with questions that cannot be answered without the supplemental analysis that the other theory provides. each theory has some limitations and therefore can be criticized in several ways. based on the readiness and willingness of followers. therefore. The full range model of leadership. The situational leadership provides us with the understanding that. it does not fully explain the change in the attitude and willingness of the followers. It can be said. The final conclusion is that we need both theories in order to effectively and holistically analyze the scene of our movie: each theory alone cannot fully explain all its nuances. This limitation of the full range model forces us to refer back to the situational leadership theory to for an explanation.assessment. leaders must adapt their own leadership approach. the Coach made the whole team study hard and perform better. that the relationship between the two theories is complementary in nature: the limitations of one theory will lead to the search for answers within the other and vice-versa. By adopting the telling style. . The situational leadership theory can only explain one part of the observed transition how the followers became much more able during the course of the scene (mostly physical strength and endurance practice) .however. though spanning a range of different leader behaviors.

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