Leadership, War and Hollywood
Writing Prompt #5
In the film A Bridge too Far, the Allied forces are trying to punch a hole through the Axis army, naming it Operation Market Garden It was a very risky operation, since they would be behind enemy lines when invading, essentially having the Axis army surrounding them if they fail to capture the bridges that they were targeting. The Allies needed to motivate the men, because they were already skeptical about the operation before it even started. One of the most prominent leadership styles that was shown in the film was the Leader-Member Exchange theory. A person who was outstanding in displaying this style of leadership was General Gavin.
Towards the end of the film, the Allies were about to launch an assault on the Nijmegen Bridge, and they needed a soldier who could lead the attack. Therefore, General Gavin went up to Major Cook, telling him about the events that were about to go down that night. He tells him the plan, and says “I need a man with very special qualities to lead”. Gavin continues, telling Cook that he has the strength and experience to lead the companies across the river. While this isn’t towards the whole group of people like the definition of the Leader-Member Exchange theory states, Gavin is putting the lives of the soldiers into Major Cook’s hands, which shows the emphasis on the entire group when Gavin is addressing him. General Gavin was giving Major Cook confidence, telling him he is the perfect man to lead the other soldiers into battle. Gavin is giving orders about this important mission in a lighthearted tone, which puts less of an emotional burden on Cook’s shoulders, perhaps allowing him to perform better when the battle occurred. The LMX theory applies to this scene, because the leader (General Gavin) was instructing and giving confidence to his group, which in this case is Major Cook, who is set to lead two companies. This conversation led to a positive response, in which Cook led the companies with dignity and courage.