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ABSTRACT Leadership development suggests individuals can develop the skills, abilities, and behaviors needed to lead.

However, it can be difficult to understand and apply these theoretical concepts. Movies provide a storytelling platform enabling learners to link theory to practice. This project uses 300 to explore skills-based leadership theories. 300 (2007) is an adaptation of Frank Millers novel depicting the Battle of Thermopylae (400 B.C.) between Greece and Persia. The movie tells the story of how King Leonidas led 300 Spartan warriors in battle against King Xerxes army in defense of Spartan land, values, and freedom. We provide background on Katzs (1955), Mumford skills approaches and other Leadership Theories like Trait Theory, Contingency Theory, Path Theory etc. Then we describe how theoretical concepts associated with these approaches can be found in the movie. Finally, we provide suggestions for experiential learning activities, which serve to help participants link and apply theory to practice.

Leadership Most of us are familiar with the word leader. The word leadership can refer to the process of leading, the concept of leading and those entities that perform one or more acts of leading. In our day-to-day life, leadership can be viewed as either actual or potential. Actual leader gives guidance or direction, as in the phrase the emperor has provided satisfactory leadership. Potential leader has the capacity or ability to lead, as in the phrase she could have exercised effective leadership; or as implies in the concept born to lead. Leadership can have a formal aspect (as in most political or business leadership) or an informal one (as in most friendships). The abstract term leadership usually implies that the entities doing the leading possess some leadership skills or competencies; while the term leading suggests action of leading. Several types of entities may provide or exhibit leadership, actual or potential. Leadership emerges when an entity as leader contrives to receive deference from other entities that become followers. The process of getting deference can become competitive in that the emerging leader draws followers from the factions of the prior or alternative leaders. In a democratic country, the people retain sovereignty (popular sovereignty) but delegate day-to-day administration and leadership to elected representatives. Competence or perceived competence provides a possible basis for selecting leadership elites from a broader pool of potential talent. Political lobbying may prove necessary in electoral systems, but immediately demonstrated skill and character may secure leadership in smaller groups such as a service agency. Many organizations and groups aim to identify, foster and promote what they see a leadership potential or ability - especially among

younger members of society. The issues of succession planning or of legitimating a leader become important when leadership (particularly individual leadership) might or must change due to term-expiry, accident or senescence (growing old). Scope of Leadership One can govern oneself, or one can govern the whole earth. In between, we may find leaders who operate primarily within families, bands, tribes, states, nations or empires. In addition to these, we also find, for example, religious leaders (potentially with their own internal hierarchies), work-place leaders (executives, officers, senior/upper managers, middle managers, staff-managers, line- managers, team-leaders, supervisors) and leaders of voluntary associations. Believing that charisma and personality alone can work miracles, most leaders operate within a structure of supporters and groups of executives who carry out and monitor the expressed or filteredDown will of the leader. This undercutting the importance of leadership may serve as a reminder of the existence of the follower. A more or less formal bureaucracy can promote an ordinary personality as an entirely effective leader. Bureaucratic organizations can also raise incompetent people to levels of leadership. These leaders may build coalitions and alliances. Political parties abound with such leaders. Still others depend on rapport with the masses: they labor on the actual work place or stand in the front-line of battle, leading by example. Suggested Qualities of Leadership Studies of leadership have suggested qualities that people often associate with leadership. They include the following qualities. Guiding others through providing a role model and through willingness to serve others first. Talent and technical/specific skill at some task at hand. Initiative and entrepreneurial drive. Charismatic inspiration - attractiveness to others and the ability to leverage this esteem to motivate others. Preoccupation with a role - a dedication that consumes much of leaders life - service to a cause. A clear sense of purpose (or mission) - clear goals - focus commitment

Results-orientation - directing every action towards a mission prioritizing activities to spend time where results most accrue. Optimism - very few pessimists become leaders. Rejection of determinism - belief in ones ability to make a difference. Ability to encourage and nurture those that report to them - delegate in such a way as people will grow. Role models - leaders may adopt a persona that encapsulates their mission and lead by example. Self-knowledge (in non-bureaucratic structures). Self-awareness - the ability to lead (as it were) ones own self prior to leading other selves similarly.

MOVIE 300 & LEADERSHIP Released in 2007, the movie 300 is an adaptation of Frank Millers fictional graphic novel depicting the Battle of Thermopylae which took place in 400 B.C. between Greece and Persia. The movie tells a vivid and graphic story of how King Leonidas leads 300 Spartan warriors through battle against King Xerxes Persian army in defense of Spartan land, values, and freedom. The movie begins as a narration describing these Spartan virtues and the development of a boy. Leonidas, through Agogi, a Spartan custom which develops young boys into warriors. 300 reveals the skills and attributes young Leonidas learns which allow him to become a future warrior and King of the Spartans. At its core, 300, like many other forms of popular culture, is a story. Stories record important events, help people make sense of complex situations, impart cultural values and beliefs, and provide opportunities to link theory and practice. Skills Approach The skills approach to leadership can be considered one of the leader-focused theories that attempt to describe leadership through the characteristics and behaviors of the leaders themselves (Callahan et al., 2007, p. 148). Identifying effective skills has long been an approach to understanding and improving leadership (Lord & Hall, 2005). Unlike the trait approach which preceded skills- based approaches to leadership, the skills approach suggests that leadership skills and abilities can be learned and developed over time. This makes skills-based approaches particularly relevant for leadership development training and

Education programs. Leaders should be aware of and understand the structural models and foundational concepts of leadership skill development so that they develop effective leadership skills, abilities, and behaviors .In a recent study of a leadership development program, Gilpin- Jackson and Bushe found that participants were more likely to learn and develop new knowledge, skills, and behaviors if they were able to both observe others using the new knowledge and skills and practice applying the knowledge and skills themselves. This is particularly important for leadership educators whose very work involves developing those skills and abilities in others. The movie 300 can be used to help demonstrate and apply the concepts in the skills approach. For the sake of simplicity and clarity, we will focus specifically on the constructs of two well known models, Katzs (1955) Three Skill Approach and Mumford et al.s (2000) Skills Model, as vehicles for exploring leadership skills within the movie. One of the earliest skills based approaches to leadership is Katzs Three Skills approach. Katz suggested leadership effectiveness is based on technical, human, and conceptual skills. Specifically, technical skill refers to ones knowledge and proficiency in a specific area. Human skill refers to ones ability to work with people, especially an understanding of and adapting to differences as well as creating a trusting relationship. Conceptual skill refers to ones ability to understand and relate concepts and ideas to the big picture, goals, and vision. Mumford and his colleagues suggested effective leadership is based on competencies (knowledge and skills), individual attributes (motivation, personality, and cognitive ability), and leadership outcomes (performance). Specifically, knowledge is the accumulation of information and the mental structures used to organize that information and is the ability to develop mental structures to learn and organize information. Cognitive ability refers to ones intelligence, reasoning skills, and memory skills as well as knowledge acquired throughout life, which influences improved problem-solving and reasoning skills as a result of this acquired knowledge. Motivation refers to ones desire to lead, ability to influence, and commitment to the organization. The Skills Model further suggests that ones career experiences and environments (e.g., access to education, technology, etc.) influence ones development of competencies and individual attributes. These two skills-based approaches to leadership continue to inform leadership theories and models. For that reason, Katzs (1955) and Mumfords et al. (2000) concepts are important seminal approaches to understand the broader spectrum of skills-based approaches to leadership. Although the labels may change slightly and the skills listings may be expanded somewhat, newer approaches to skills- based leadership still hold vestiges of these early attempts to define leadership through the skills of an individual. For example, Sternberg (2003) proposed a new skills-based approach that included a synthesis of wisdom, intelligence, and creativity. These are roughly equivalent to Katzs (1955) human, technical, and conceptual skills. For another example, Lord and Hall (2005) include skills that equate to the knowledge, skills, cognitive ability, and personality components of Mumfords et al. Three Skills Model, and they

add an identity component that somewhat extends the individual attributes component of the Three Skills Model. In the pages that follow, we first graphically depict the connections between these two seminal approaches to skills-based leadership.

KING LEONIDAS King Leonidas is most well known for his heroics at the battle of Thermopylae. The Persian army was invading Greece with the goal of conquering the world. King Leonidas was appointed the leader of the Greek army that would battle Persia because of the Spartans' well-known prowess in battle. When the Persians finally arrived at the gates of Thermopylae, the Spartans unfortunately could not go to battle because a religious festival called the Carneia prevented them. But as the leader of the Greek Alliance army, King Leonidas felt he could not let down his country and led the army to battle with a mere 300 Spartan soldiers. The Greek army had a combined force of 7,000 men that were to go to battle against the sea of 200,000 invading Persian warriors. On the seventh day of battle the Greek army had killed 20,000 Persians and only lost 2,000 of their own. But then the battle was lost as a Greek traitor informed the Persian King Xerxes of a mountain pass that could be used to outflank and finish off the Greek army. King Leonidas, knowing that they would all die, gave the order for the Alliance forces to retreat except for him and the 300 Spartans who stayed to die a heroes death. King Leonidas and his three hundred men died on August 11th 480 B.C. battle the invading Persian force.

Fiedlers Contingency Model The theory that effective groups depend on a proper match between a leaders style of interacting with subordinates and the degree to which the situation gives control and influence to the leader. Fiedlers Model: Defining the Situation Leader-Member Relations The degree of confidence, trust, and respect subordinates has in their leader. In the Movie we see that the subordinates take their kings decision as the last decision. They have confidence in their leader and are always ready to follow him.

Path-Goal Theory The theory that it is the leaders job to assist followers in attaining their goals and to provide them the necessary direction and/or support to ensure that their goals are compatible with the overall objectives of the group or organization. King Leonidas is a king of kings according to his soldiers (THE 300). He guides them, motivates them and supports them in various situations. Leader-Participation Model (Vroom and Yetton) A leadership theory that provides a set of rules to determine the form and amount of participative decision making in different situations. After watching the movie one cannot deny the valor of the king. While we see the Persian king riding behind his soldiers on the other hand we see King Leonidas, the king of Greek and The 300 stand in from of his troop at war. He considers himself to be a part of the team. Task Structure The degree to which the job assignments are procedurized. In the movie King Leonidas assigns the commander and different tasks to different soldiers. He tries to preserve their identity while assigning them jobs. Position Power Influence derived from ones formal structural position in the organization; includes power to hire, fire, discipline, promote, and give salary increases. King Leonidas has the power to hire and fire people. He hired the 300 but rejected the monster because he was of no use to him and later on the same monster betrays him. Cognitive Resource Theory A theory of leadership that states that stress can unfavorably affect a situation and that intelligence and experience can lessen the influence of stress on the leader. King Leonidas in the movie has faced too many stress and situations, but His intelligence and experience while he was a AGOGI has trained him well to plunge out of stress. We see this many times when he goes in soliloquy and remembers his training of never to say no and never die attitude. Behavioral Theories of Leadership Theories proposing that specific behaviors differentiate leaders from nonleaders. This theory states that a leader can be made and thats exactly what King Leonidas represents. He was sent to be a AGOGI at the age of 7. He lived in the woods for 15 years and trained himself to be the leader/king and all the aspects required to be a leader.

Table 1: Comparison of Katzs (1955) and Mumford et al.s (2000) leadership effectiveness and development model. Katzs Skills Approach Katz KATZ THREE SKILL APPROACH Developed Abilities Building knowledge and proficiency in an area. MUMFORS SKILL MODEL Model Construct Competencie s

Model Construct TECHNICAL

Developed Abilities

_ Knowledge. _ Mental structures to

organize information and knowledge.

_ Skills.


Working with people, especially: _ Understanding differences. _ Adapting to

Individual Attributes

Motivation,includin g: Desire to lead. Ability to influence

differences. _ Creating a trusting relationship.

others. Commitment to the organization, goal, vision, etc. Personality Cognitive Abilities including Intelligence. Reasoning Skills. Memory, which improves problem solving and reasoning skills


Understan d concepts and ideas. _ Relate concepts and ideas to the vision, goal, big picture.

Leadership Outcomes

_ Performance.

Influences on Development

_ Environme

nt (e.g., access to education, technology, etc.).

_ Career



FACILITATIVE STYLE Leader presents problem to group of employees and seeks consensus on a solution. King Leonidas presents the problem thats approaching them and asks them solutions and if they want to stay or want to retreat. CHARAZMATIC STYLE When you think about charismatic leaders, names like Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Steve Jobs may come to mind. A charismatic leader has the ability to influence followers by conveying his or her vision through words and actions which have a great emotional effect. A charismatic leader sets an example for others to imitate and moves people to believe in their vision for a better future. Another great example of a charismatic leader in King Leonidas in the movie 300. As we know, the movie depicts the Battle of Thermopylae where 300 Spartan soldiers go into battle against the Persian army in order to save Sparta from Persian rule. Throughout the movie we see how the Spartan soldiers follow their king, their leader, no matter the consequences. In their text, Robbins & Judge explain four key characteristics of charismatic leaders. They are as follows: Vision and Articulation The leader has a vision which proposes a future better than the status quo and clarifies the importance of the vision in understandable terms. Personal Risk The leader is willing to take on high personal risk, costs, and self-sacrifice to achieve the vision. Sensitivity to Follower Needs The leader understands others abilities and is responsive to their needs/feelings. Unconventional Behavior The leader engages in behaviors counter to norms.

Lets look at these characteristics compared to King Leonidas. Vision and Articulation King Leonidas has a strong vision that Sparta will remain a free country and not fall under the rule of Persia and Xerxes. He conveys the importance of his vision through his actions to fight against the Persian army. Personal Risk Leonidas knows that it is an extreme risk, most likely leading to death, for his 300 men to face tens of thousands of Persian soldiers. He is also willing to risk his own life for the freedom of his country.

Sensitivity to Follower Needs Leonidas chooses his best 300 soldiers to go into battle to hold back the Persian armys attack on Sparta. He keeps them motivated throughout the battles they face. Unconventional Behavior Leonidas goes against the recommendations of the Oracle and the Spartan council and leads 300 of his best soldiers into a battle to their deaths.

What Leadership Lesson can we learn from 300?

Always have Integrity- No matter what the circumstance or how much you have to lose: This is by far the number one quality any leader needs to have if they are going to be successful. The reason that Integrity is so important is that when the chips are on the table, people know where you stand and know that you won't falter or be bribed into bad choices. People first, have a Passion for your people: So many decisions made in the boardrooms across America don't place the people first; they are more concerned with the bottom line and how their bonuses are affected. Now, I'm no fool, I understand that companies are in business to make money. It always becomes a case of what came first, the horse or the cart? History has shown that you can cut costs and maintain jobs. Sure, there is sacrifice, in the short term though. The long haul is where it works out and all involved come out ahead. Don't ever sacrifice your people out of fear. Sometimes, you have to sacrifice: King Leonidas had no visions that he and his 300 men where going to defeat the Persians. Sure, he knew that they could take a few with them, in the end though he knew they would sacrifice their lives for the greater good. I can understand this principal well. I have served this country for over 20 years, always ready to lay my life down if called to do so. I'm no hero, I just believe in duty, honor, commitment and country. When you carry that kind of loyalty in front of your people, they will respect you and follow you. In turn, you have to be willing to take a bullet for them as well. Empowerment: When you do the right thing, it empowers those around you. Sure, sometimes you pay the price for it in the short term, overall though you send a message to your people and superiors that you will go the extra mile, regardless of the cost.