20 Septemer 2019
In Leadership Theory and Practice, by Northouse, the Behavioral approach is introduced as a way to study leadership. The behavioral approach “emphasizes the behavior of the leader” (Northouse 74), “focuses exclusively on what leaders do and how they act” (Northouse 74) and purpose is “to explain how leaders combine these two kinds of behaviors to influence followers in their efforts to reach a goal” (Northouse 74). The chapter discusses two versions of the behavioral approach, task behaviors, and relationship behaviors. Task behaviors “facilitate goal accomplishment: They help group members to achieve their objectives,” while relationship behaviors “help followers feel comfortable with themselves, with each other, and with the situation in which they find themselves” (Northouse 74). Throughout the movie, Patton and Bradley differ slightly in their leadership approaches. Patton uses task behaviors throughout the film and disregards the lives of his followers to reach his goal of victory. To contrast, Bradley uses relationship behaviors and cares more about his men then the end goal of glory.
To accomplish his final goal of defeating the Nazis, Patton uses task behaviors to obtain this victory. Throughout the film, Patton is harsh in the treatment of his men and values the legacy he will lead because of this war, rather than the feelings, or even the loss of lives that his men are faced with. Patton’s harsh rule is observed while Lucian argues with Patton, telling him that he believes the men need a day to rest before pursuing another attack. Lucian attempts to persuade Patton, arguing that too many men have died under his command and that they are becoming increasingly frustrated with how Patton leads. Instead of trying to appease the feelings of Lucian, Patton tells him that they must attack and that if Lucian puts his mind to it he can send the boys to attack. Patton becomes blind to the wellbeing and supports his men deserve, focusing on his victory against the Nazis only. He also tells Lucian that he has no right to “postpone a match that’s already been scheduled ” (Patton). Patton informs Lucian that he has the final say in what happens and uses task behaviors of “organizing work, giving structure to the work context, defining role responsibilities,and scheduling work activities,” rather than using the relationship behaviors of making followers, in this case, Lucian, “feel comfortable with themselves, with each other, and with the situation in which they find themselves ” (Patton) to lead over his followers and Lucian.
Bradley relies heavily on relationship behavior to lead his men to facilitate their shared goal of defeating the Nazis. Bradley, unlike Patton, cares less about the end result and more regarding the sacrifices that occurred during the individual battles. During the scene when Patton tells Lucian he has to send his men to attack, Bradley works against Patton to attempt to give the soldiers rest. Bradley tells Patton that “those men might get caught up there on the beach and get cut up to pieces ” (Patton) and that he believes they should not rush into it until they are ready. Bradley understands that if the men not rest and rush into fighting that many of them could die. Bradley uses the relationship approach because he “tak[es] and interest in [his] workers as human beings ” (Northouse 75). He, unlike Patton, would rather wait and urges Patton to give them an extra day to recover before sending them out to fight. Bradley reprimands ‘Patton’s task approach by saying “I do know that you’re gambling with the lives of those boys just so you can beat Montgomery into Messina and if you pull it off you’re a big hero but if you don’t- what happens to them?” ” (Patton). Bradley values the glory of the war less than the safety of his men and the casualties that may be a result along the way, exemplifying his relationship behavior approach to leadership.
Patton and Bradley had differing approaches to leadership and were both successful leaders however, Patton, by using more task behaviors, became a more successful and well-known leader during World War Two. Although Patton did risk the lives of many people, he was able to overcome various obstacles to help win the war. At the end of the film, Bradley tells Patton that he believes Patton did amazing things throughout Europe and that his leadership approach helped them defeat the Nazis. Patton’s leadership approach was effective however I ‘don’t believe that it was ethical to sacrifice men in order to fulfill a legacy or to obtain glory. I personally would rather be a leader that was known to be ethical and respectful of their followers, similar to Bradley, then be a less ethical leader like Patton. However, if Patton did not use his task behavior, there is a possibility that the war could have lasted longer and caused even more deaths of innocent civilians. Patton and Bradley differed greatly in their leadership approaches and were able to lead their men with differing success yet Patton had more success with his harsh task behavioral approach due to his major role in defeating the Nazis and his legacy that he left behind.