Saving Private Ryan
Many people in this world have power and influence. Yet, there are few who have the traits needed to be an incredible leader. These people who are positive leaders tend to leave strong impressions in our minds for years or maybe even a lifetime. In choosing a movie with a character that portrayed a strong sense of power and influence, and possessed the traits of a good leader, I remembered a character that left an admirable impression in my mind.
Saving Private Ryan is a perfect example of a movie with all of the elements of powerful and influential leaders. Specifically, Tom Hanks who plays Captain John Miller is a strong willed individual with a commitment to his country. He leads his troop through battlefields and dangerous predicaments during World War II. It is his knowledge of combating the enemy, which leads him into a precarious situation.
Captain Miller is assigned the difficult task of finding Private Ryan who is missing along with most of his troop, which was divided after an attack. The reason for the mission is because Private Ryan’s three brothers had just died in the war. Private Ryan is to be sent home immediately. The rest of the events that unfold entail tragedies and accomplishments that lead to Captain Miller’s final command.
Looking back at how Captain Miller was a powerful leader throughout the movie is evident in most everything that he does. He was a legitimate Captain with much training in his position as an authoritative figure. With every command that he gives, he exerts his power.

According to French and Raven (1960), there are five types of power. They are reward, coercive, legitimate, expert, and referent power. It is easy to apply each one of these types of power to Captain Miller and his approach to leadership.

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The first type of power, reward power, is the potential of an organization or member in a specified role to offer positive incentives for good behavior. In an organization these incentives may include bonuses, vacations, or promotions. The incentives may vary from one member of a role to another.

Captain Miller may have exerted reward power by giving his soldiers easier work when they behaved properly. Another way that he may have used this power is by allowing them to take breaks when they should have kept going. Being a Captain meant that he had this reward power just by his title.
Coercive power is the ability for an individual to punish a subordinate for undesirable behavior. Examples of coercive power would be dismissal, docking of pay, reprimands, and unpleasant work assignments. Sometimes these types of punishments are stated in organizations main beliefs.

Captain Miller used this type of power whenever one of his troop members behaved improperly. For example, in the movie when he heard one of his men say something he didn’t approve of, he reprimanded him. This also was vested in his title.

Legitimate power is the third type of power. This is also known as authority. This is when a subordinate believes the leader’s power over him or her is legitimate. Captain Miller definitely had this power because of his title. This type of power relates to reward and coercive power. Since he is a Captain his gives him the legitimacy to reward and punish his subordinates.

At one point in the movie, Captain Miller instructed his army to plan an attack on the enemy. This is a command that puts all of their lives at risk. Because that command came from a Captain and not just another soldier, those who followed his orders most likely did so because of his title.

Expert power is the belief that some other individual has expertise in a given area and he or she should defer to the experts judgement. This experience is what made the other soldiers look up to Captain Miller. This expert power is perceived experience. Although the leader may or may not have actual experience, this perception may lead to negative outcomes.

In Saving Private Ryan, there were no negative outcomes because of a lack of experience. Every command and decision made by Captain Miller was based on knowledge and expertise. That is why Captain Miller and his men eventually prevail.

The last type of power is referent power. This happens to be the most abstract type of power. When a leader is someone who can be looked up to they are said to have referent power. The source of referent power is the referents personal qualities.

Captain Miller demonstrates referent power throughout the movie. One factor that may contribute to this quality could be his age. His is slightly older than the other soldiers are. This age difference may cause the soldiers to look up to Captain Miller. Age is known sometimes as a personal quality that causes reverence.

Another aspect of superior leadership is the different type of traits that he or she may possess. This particular approach emphasizes the personal attributes of leaders. The importance of each leaders personal traits and the relationship to his or her effectiveness appears to depend upon the situation that each leader may encounter.

There are four traits that may encompass a good leader. These traits include physical, social, personality, and intellectual aspects. More specifically, a high energy level, tolerance for stress, emotional maturity, integrity, and self-confidence all lead to incomparable leadership.
The physical traits that Captain Miller possessed were distinctive of an excellent leader. His body was capable of performing tasks that not just anyone could do. He was stronger than most people were. Captain Miller was also what society would view to be handsome. This trait is useful in persuading people because they may think that someone who is good looking is more credible than an average looking person.

Captain Miller showed that he had a very high energy level when he led his troop through many days of treacherous warfare. This high energy level is essential when dealing with tiresome work. A high energy level is also needed to encourage other subordinates to do their work and to do it well.

The social aspects that are common of a good leader may consist of knowing how to act in certain situations. Because Captain Miller was a higher-ranking soldier, he needed to know how to act properly. He would do this by showing respect to those who were higher than him and by making sure that those who are under him show him proper respect.

Every person has a different type of personality. It takes a specific personality to be able to withstand the challenge of leadership. Those who have a higher tolerance for stress seem to be able to help cope with the hectic pace and demands of leadership positions. Captain Miller had self-confidence in himself to make the right decision at the right time.

Captain Miller’s personality type was ideal for leadership. He handled stress very well, considering throughout the whole movie, stress was placed upon him. Emotional maturity is also a trait that the Captain possessed. This is the idea that someone is less self-centered, has more self-control, has more stable emotions, and is less defensive. He did not get caught up in what was actually happening too often. Whenever a time like this came about, he stopped to gather himself so that he could be a good leader for the rest of the troop.

When a person’s behavior is consistent with expressed values and that person is honest and trustworthy, they are said to have integrity. Captain Miller was completely honest with his men. He was also someone who could be trusted. At one point in the movie, one of the soldiers told the Captain a very personal story about their life. Since he was a good leader, he listened and gave the soldier advice on the subject.

One of the most important traits that Captain Miller had was his intellect. He was smarter than the average person was. He came up with brilliant ideas to stop the enemy. His troop listened to him and obeyed him because they knew that he was knowledgeable in what he was talking about.
Captain Miller was a powerful and influential leader. He led his men through some of the hardest times of the war. Not only did he display the five types of power, he showed that he had all of the traits necessary to be an extraordinary leader.