Twelve Angry Men
Leaders are defined by two separate characteristics; those who are appointed as the leader and those with no special title that emerge as influential. In the movie Twelve Angry Men, Henry Fonda portrays a character that gains respect by others for emerging as a leader. Along with holding leadership abilities, his actions also resulted in classic communication techniques.
At the beginning of the movie, it may seem that Fonda is displaying deviant behavior. The scene opens with the jurors casting guilty votes to determine a thoughtless verdict. All eleven jurors, except one (Fonda) voted guilty. As a viewer watching this movie, you have to give the character consideration since he decided to go against the norm and vote not guilty. He could be considered a deviant because he has no valid evidence to prove his verdict, but he says that there is enough reasonable doubt to question the validity of the case. Is he not voting guilty just to get a rise out of everyone or is he really questioning the case? It is obvious that the other characters are not amused and single him out. This is also a deviant trait. However, this deviant trait leads into an emerging leadership that the other characters respect.
As a leader, Henry Fonda stands out for various reasons. One of the most prominent is at the beginning of the movie. Fonda begins to display task-related functions by offering up a new idea to the group. In this case, it was the idea of the boy being not guilty. Although the men were upset with him, the thought had crossed their mind long enough to realize he may be right.
By offering up his opinion and a new suggestion, he opened the door for character development of the other jurors. This then creates new options and processes for the group to explore. However, this also creates secondary tension and new power struggles. Fondas point was that he had no substantial evidence to prove that he knew the boy was not guilty, but he had enough doubt to make the claim. Since the rest of the jurors had their minds focused in guilty-mode, the secondary tension arrives to disrupt their substantive agreement. For example, Fonda is constantly ridiculed by the smaller minded of the jurors: the bigot or the sports fan. Others, however, are more open-minded and are curious to hear what he has to say. For example, the old, old man sitting next to Fonda seemed to be the most intrigued by Fonda, simply because he had the courage to be different.
It is obvious to the viewer that Fonda is the leader, but as the rest of the jurors come into their own; you begin to question their effectiveness. For example, a power struggle is constantly brewing between Fonda and the juror with the picture of his son. Out of all the jurors, he outs up the most vicious fight. In the beginning, certain traits, such as his aggressiveness or persuasiveness, may have identified him as a leader. Although in the end, he had become the deviant to the other members of the jury.
However, even as the secondary tension is increasing, Fonda begins to emerge as the leader by elaborating on what every juror was trying to say or making suggestions to keep the group focused. Toward the middle of the movie, he had persuaded almost half of the jury to be not guilty! They even started to go up to him and ask him what he really thought about the case. All he could say was all of it could have possibly not happened. This obviously wasnt enough to convince the more challenging characters.
One of the communication concepts that Fonda demonstrates throughout the movie is the contingency concept. This holds that attaining appropriate leadership behaviors depends on the situation. Fonda attained this concept very eloquently. He had to take into consideration that he was going to be facing very tough ridicule and since he knew nothing of the other jurors, he had to keep an open mind about all of their suggestions as well. The jurys setting was so complex. Opposing views were flying all over the place. Maybe he wanted the other jurors to prove him wrong. He was always asking the guilty voters to defend their answers. The opposing jurors were probably being convinced without even knowing it. He conveyed the appropriate attitudes and patience to go along with the readiness level of the other jurors to switch their votes. Fonda also portrayed such an evasive listener that this could have also earned him so much respect. For example, he really tried to understand the supported evidence that the stockbroker had to offer.
In conclusion, Henry Fonda emerged as a very successful leader. Whether he knew that his doubt was going to have such a profound effect on the juries decision was unknown, but his motivation certainly changed things. He emerged into a leadership style whether or not he wanted to, all because of the respect he earned by others. They learned a lot from him, as others watching this movie surely did.