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Leadership is the state of guiding other people. Leaders have express authority over their subjects, and it is exercised depending on the leadership style adopted by the head (Miner, 2015). There are various forms of leadership styles including; autocratic, participative, transactional, transformational and laissez-faire leadership. The different styles depict varying types of leadership power, the ability to influence others to perform certain activities they would otherwise not have undertaken. Leadership power takes the various forms of; expert, referent, reward, coercive and legitimate power. Effective leaders exercise different forms of power to produce commitment and compliance in subordinates.

Dead Poet’s Society (Legitimate Power)

Legitimate power arises from one’s appointment to an authoritative position (Pierro et al, 2013). In this video clip, Mr. Nolan exercises his legitimate power over the students and Mr. Keating. However, the students do not comply with Nolan’s request because they perceive it to be beyond his scope of authority. This is evident from the clip when the students stand up for what they believe is right. They go against Mr. Nolan’s orders and stand on their desks in solidarity with Mr. Keating. Nolan uses an autocratic leadership style by imposing his total authority over the students and Mr. Keating. Keating, on the other hand, uses a participative leadership style by valuing the input of the students though the final decision is at his discretion. This style of leadership boosts the morale of the students because they feel Keating believes in them and that their opinion does count. The manner in which the students act is based on the expectancy theory that the act precedes an attractive outcome thus depicting the path-goal theory. Mr. Nolan’s use of legitimate power while addressing Mr. Keating is appropriate in this scenario. However, expert power would have been more appropriate to communicate to the students. 

Office Space – Working Tomorrow (Legitimate Power).

Lumberg uses the autocratic leadership style over the employee. He solely makes the decision that the employee should report to work over the weekend without even consulting the staff member. Lumberg exercises his total authority by imposing his will on the employee who has to comply since the leader’s decision cannot be challenged. He uses his legitimate power over the employee by arrogantly requesting him to report to work over the weekend while he is supposed to be off duty. In this scenario, the employee complies because Lumberg has the right to make the request. Fiedler’s contingency model best describes the leadership approach depicted in this video clip. Fiedler argues that the effectiveness of leadership is dependent on the situation and personality of the leader. The employee complies due to Lumberg’s personality as a superior staff and the motivated task situation. Lumberg’s use of legitimate power is most appropriate in this scenario since it would be difficult to convince the employee to report to work during his days off duty by use of any other form of leadership power.

Remember the Titans (Expert Power)

In this video clip, the coach uses expert power to appeal to the players to respect each other though they may not like one another. The coach’s power is based on his unique skills and experience as the player’s trainer. In this scenario, the players comply because they believe that the coach possesses unique knowledge about how to train best. The coach persuades the players by presenting logical arguments and supporting evidence about the battle of Gettysburg. He lets the players know that they will meet the same fate as those involved in the battle of Gettysburg if they do not change their perceptions towards each other and let go off hatred for one another. The coach utilizes the transformational leadership style to achieve his goals. This manifests in the way the coach motivates the players by being physically involved in their early training routine and taking it upon himself to communicate with the players to enhance their welfare. The leadership model that best describes the coach’s approach to leadership is the Trait model. The theory identifies different personality traits and attributes that are affiliated to victorious leadership in an array of situations. The coach is charismatic and has innate characteristics common to leaders such as determination and knowledge. The use of expert power by the coach is very appropriate since it provides him with the confidence required to convince the team members to respect one another.

The Princess Bride (Reward Power)

In this video clip, Roberts uses reward power to influence Vazzini to identify the poisoned glass of wine in their battle of wits. In this scenario, Vazzini complies due to his desire to outsmart Roberts. Vazzini derives emotional satisfaction from this struggle and thus his willingness to outwit Roberts. Roberts uses the participative leadership style by allowing vazzini to pour the wine into the glasses and listening to his input before choosing which glass to drink from. However, the decision to poison the wine in all the glasses having taken immunity against the effects of the poison remains at the discretion of Roberts.  The best leadership model that describes the Roberts’ approach is Fiedler’s contingency theory which holds that effective leadership is dependent on the leader’s personality and the current situation (Chemers, 2014). Vazzini complies due to Roberts’ character as his opponent and the current state of the battle of wits. Reward power is appropriate in this scenario since Vazzini derives emotional satisfaction from his outwit with Roberts.

The Blind Side (Coercive and Referent Power)

The coach uses coercive power by threatening to flag off Michael if he continues to attack the opponent wrongly by forcefully holding him by the collar bone. The coach uses the transactional style of leadership by setting predetermined goals for the team and has the power to correct the players like he does with Michael. The behavioral theory is the best model that describes the leadership approach used by the coach. The coach’s response to Michael’s shortcoming manifests his aggressive behavior when dealing with the failures of the team members. Mrs. Tuhoy uses referent power in this video clip to get through to Mike. She exercises her power by asking Mike to protect his teammates from their rivals. The request made by Mrs. Tuhoy is of great importance, and therefore, Mike has to Comply. He also fulfills the request because he identifies with Mrs. Tuhoy and would want to gain her approval. Referent power arises from affiliations or groups we are attached to. Mrs. Tuhoy adopts the transformational style of leadership by being physically present at the tournament and personally communicating with Michael to ensure that the goals of the team are achieved. Her presence at the competition indicates her involvement, and it helps to increase the productivity of her team members. The trait model best describes Mrs. Tuhoy’s leadership approach in the video clip. It is evident that she possesses leadership traits from the manner in which she persuades Mike and convinces him to protect his team members from their opponents. The use of coercive and referent power by the coach and Mrs. Tuhoy respectively while addressing Michael is indeed appropriate for the two scenarios.

The Devil Wears Prada (Expert power)

In this video clip, Miranda uses her expert power over Andy by putting her off for not having a sense of fashion and for lack of knowledge about the company and the fashion industry. Andy leaves the office after Miranda snubs her and goes ahead to talk to Nigel, who also disregards Andy. Andy complies because she believes that she does not possess the necessary skills to work as Miranda’s assistant. The behavioral theory is the best model that describes Miranda’s leadership approach. The manner in which Miranda throws the newspaper so as to pay attention to Nigel depicts her behavioral response to anything that does not please her. Miranda’s leadership style is however not appropriate in this scenario. It would be suitable for Miranda to use her legitimate power to communicate her expectations of an assistant to Andy. 


Different positions of power are best suited by different types of power. In the Dead Poets Society clip, Mr. Nolan tries to use his authority as a leader to make everyone comply with his orders. However, they are unwilling to comply as they think that he is misinformed, hence leading to a failure in legitimate power. However, we a see a point where legitimate power succeeds in the Office Space video when Lumberg decides when his staff should work without even consulting with them. Expert power is used in Remember the Titans and Remember the Titans. The coach uses his expertise as a leader to persuade his team members to respect each other regardless of what misunderstandings may exist between them. Miranda also persuades his employee to comply using the same form of power. In the Blind Side, the coach uses a combination of referent and coercive power to get Michael to play properly without hurting the players from the other team. Notably, each video shows an opportunity where a different form of power was most suitable.


Blind Side. (2009). Hollywood.

Chemers, M. (2014). An integrative theory of leadership. Psychology Press.

Miner, John B. Organizational behavior 1: Essential theories of motivation and leadership. Routledge, 2015.

O Captain, my Captain! Thank you to Robin Williams (2013). Hollywood

Office Space – Working Tomorrow. (1999). Hollywood.

Pierro, A., Raven, B. H., Amato, C., & Bélanger, J. J. (2013). Bases of social power, leadership styles, and organizational commitment. International Journal of Psychology48(6), 1122-1134.

Remember the Titans – Coach Boone Charismatic Leadership. (2016). Hollywood.

The Devil Wears Prada (2/5) Movie CLIP – Andy’s Interview. (2006). Hollywood.

The princess bride – Battle of the wits. (1987). Hollywood.

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