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Twelve O'Clock High

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Twelve O’clock High
Leadership and Management styles have played an important role in the learning in Outcome Assessment and Quality Management. In class I have learned the positives and negatives that come from the different leadership styles presented. The movie, Twelve O’clock High, is a film that takes place in 1943 outside Nazi Germany. It depicts the 918th Bomb Group and the problems that they are having. Throughout the movie we are presented with multiple leadership styles from the commanding officers; Colonel Davenport, Brigadier General Savage, and Major General Pritchard of Pine Tree.
Through Colonel Davenport, Major General Pritchard, and Brigadier General Savage at the start of the film we can see the distinct difference between their leadership styles. General Davenport shows a high concern for his navigator trying to take blame for a navigation error that was his navigator’s fault. Davenport shows a high concern for his men and a low or medium concern for production lead me to believe middleman management style. General Savage, who seems to have the exact opposite leadership style, is highly task oriented and shows little if any concern for the men of the 918th. Savage has a managerial style mimicking authority compliance. Major General Pritchard shares the same management style as Savage. Shortly after the conversation Davenport is relieved of his duty and Savage is put in control of the 918th. Pritchard and Savage are both men who believe chain of command stemming from the fact that they are in the military. According to them you must adhere to the chain of command at all times no matter the circumstances. They believe in orders and that orders should be followed exactly.

Arrival at the 918th
After arriving at the 918th Bomber Group, Savage is presented with a group of poorly motivated and disciplined men. He notices the lax of security at the entrance gate along with some of the 918th drinking at the pub. While trying to find the office in command he finds, Air Executive Officer Gately, drinking in the pub. Savage has him arrested and brought to headquarters where he reprimands Gately for his actions. Savage then tells him that he is one of the major reasons for Davenport’s downfall. A chain of command is referenced here because in Davenport’s absence Gately was supposed to be responsible. Because of this incident, Savage demotes Gately and gives him the worst of the airmen, to accompany him on his plane newly named the “Leper Colony”. Savage knows that conventional tactics will not work on these men because they do not seem to care. Savage does not believe that the men of the 918th are ready for a delegating style of leadership so he must use a telling style of leadership. The reason for the telling style of leadership is because it promotes a high task orientation with low relationship orientation. Savage needs to be harsh and implement the chain of command that Davenport never did. Even though Gately has an excellent record and excellent schooling, Savage used the demotion as a self-actualizing action for Gately. He wants Gately to feel the need to prove himself better than being in the “Leper Colony”.
First Air Brief
The first air brief is an important scene because this is the first time Savage is introduced to the entire 918th Bomber group. Savage tells the men that they need to accept death before they go to fight or they will never come out on top. Savage tells them that the unit will be run differently and there will be no babying of any kind. He finishes his address with an offer of transfer for anyone that cannot hack it. Flight Surgeon Captain Kaiser relays the message that the men are suffering from physical and mental stress; the shock tactics he is using is just making it worse. In light of this, Savage changes his approach to make the 918th Bomber Group a tough hard working unit by instilling pride in his men. The men are rejecting the changes that Savage is trying to implement so now he needs to follow the right paths when trying to successfully implement the change. Some of the things he needs to do are: build trust, discuss upcoming changes, involve the men in the changes, make sure the changes are reasonable, avoid threats, follow a reasonable time schedule, and implement changes in most logical place. These are just some of the ideas that Savage now can work with in order to achieve his successful move from telling to delegating. One of the first steps that Savage takes is to instill the men with pride. He believes that they hold the same value that he has of pride it is just that they have forgotten.
Upon return from a successful mission Savage has a run in with Pritchard. Pritchard asks why Savage did not return when the return call was made. Savage tells him it must have been a “radio malfunction”, which it clearly was not. After an argument Savage tells Pritchard that the men deserve recognition for their success and that there might be some “Radio Malfunctions” in the future also. Savage is starting to move up in his relationship status while he is trying to motivate the 918. Savage is starting to feel for these men but he is also getting tired because they have not removed their transfer requests and they still are not exhibiting any pride in their work.
Motivation
Savage calls Lieutenant Bishop, a Medal of Honor nominee, into his office and asks him why he thinks the men of 918 are not showing any enthusiasm or pride despite their success. Bishop tells him it is because they feel like guinea pigs; they feel like they are fighting for no real reason or purpose. Savage then realizes that he needs to fill them with the feeling of purpose, which is a concept that its key objectives are to motivate a group. The men of 918 withdraw their transfer notice once Savage begins to change tactics.
Savage has another briefing to tell the men that they are going to get what they asked for, a chance to attack Germany directly. This briefing showed the men that their hard work is really paying off and that this is their reward. They finally have a valid purpose and are no longer guinea pigs. After the return from the successful mission Savage learns that Gately, the man he put in charge of the “Leper Colony” has been hospitalized with a broken back and that he has flown his last three missions with a broken back. This showed Savage that his tactics were working when the hardest of the 918th refused to be grounded with a broken back and flew anyway.
The biggest mission that the 918th has ever flown has been handed to them. As the unit is about to leave Savage freaks out and is replaced on the flight. He moved from a telling managerial style to delegating style. He finally has trust in the unit. Trust is one of the key concepts to delegating. This is why when Savage first arrived he could not delegate, he had not trust in the unit. He now had good communication skills with his unit because they trusted him and his judgment. He showed them that he was not just a regular leader, leading from the rear. He flew missions with them, developed a relationship and a proud feeling for the unit.
One of the major ideas of the movie was brought to the attention of the audience in the last scene you see Savage. In the beginning of the film Savage gives Davenport a nice pair of flight boots. Davenport refuses to take them and gives them back to Savage. Savage then wears Davenport’s boots for the length of his time at the base. Symbolically at the end when all of the planes come back he takes them off. To me I finally was able to understand the saying, “Don’t judge a man until you have walked a mile in their shoes. Savage can now clearly see what true morals are. Previously he was hell-bent on forcing the unit to change no matter who it hurts. One of the reasons for this is the fact that he had no relationship with the man he was taking over. As soon as he knew the men and started developing feelings for them he realized it was not moral to be treating them as merely tools to get the job done but as people.
Conclusion
In conclusion Twelve O’clock High was a very informative film on classic leadership styles along with the depiction of a man developing from a telling managerial style to delegation. Not only did the film show the view what not to do but it shows that it is possible to make mistakes but you learn from your mistakes. As Savage moved through managerial styles the movie portrays the key points of leadership styles such as; in order to delegate you must trust the individual you are delegating to and that one cannot lead from the rear. This movie taught and emphasized key points of leadership and movement styles.

References
• Bartlett and Lay. (1949). Twelve O’clock High, film produced by 20th Century Fox.
• Duffin, Allan T. and Paul Matheis. The 12 O'Clock High Logbook. Albany, Georgia: Bearmanor Media, 2005.
• Evans, James R. (2008). Quality and Performance Excellence: Management, Organization and Strategy, 6th Edition Cengage Learning.

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