Importance of Leadership

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Introduction to Leadership

Leadership is a practical skill or ability to lead the individuals or team. This involves establishment of clear vision and sharing the same with other members of team and also provide them proper information, method and knowledge. Leadership is an important process which gives influence and direction to others (Yuki, 2010). The leader of a team focus on all needed things which are required to accomplish the goal and also influence other member to put the efforts to achieve the organization objective.

The leadership actions have been involved in the movie, “To kill a mockingbird”. This movie is based on the social drama novel of Harper Lee which was published in 1960. This movie deals with the serious issues of racial inequality, rape and leadership practices are also involved in this. This novel has won the Pulitzer Prize and also become famous in American literature (Mills, 2011). This story takes place at Maycomb country and the description of characters are defined below. 

Atticus Finch is the most enduring fictional character of racial heroism in this movie. He is middle aged lawyer. He has two children being Scout and her older brother Jem. In this story judge appoint Atticus to defend Tom, who is black man and has been accused for raping a white woman Mayella. Boo Radley is neighbour of Atticus and the adults are hesitant to about him because he never comes out of his house. When Bob attacks Scout and Jem, Boo comes and rescue the children. Bob Ewell is a father of Mayella and he feels humiliated from this case. He decides and take vow to take revenge from Atticus.

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In “To kill a mockingbird” movie both characters Atticus plays the role of leader. In relation to both these characters, the report has mainly focused on identifying the main leaders as well as followers of the movie as per the plot setup. Focus will be given on addressing the traits possessed by follower behaviours as well as the leaders. The leadership style will also be evaluated and comments will be made on their effectiveness. Then the leadership/follower traits as well as qualities will be applied on workplace scenario of medical sales executive who is providing services to clinics doctors. The report at the end will conclude with differentiating between show vs reality.

Leadership in movie “to kill a mockingbird”

In the movie being To Kill a Mockingbird, the leader is Atticus. Atticus is the leader because he is moral, strong, and courageous, well educated person. Moreover, being a lawyer he holds a prominent place in the community.Atticus has shown the feature of a leader just like Martin Luther King, Jr by standing against racism. Atticus has stood in defence of Tom Robinson just like Martin Luther King, who stood for African Americans. Atticus just like Martin Luther King, who has stood for what is right on a morale ground. Atticus also takes a stand to defend the Tom, who is a black man. The fight put his life as well as that of his children on risk but still he did not moved away from the rights.

However, it is also true that both Atticus Finch and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr made an attempt to fight for equality of blacks. Martin Luther succeeds in his attempt but Atticus failed in the same. He failed because there was no one to follow him in the battle of racism except his son and daughter. He also single handed stood against the legal system for Tom who did not committed any crime. He single handedly tried for what was right as per him. Hence he is a leader (Schein, 2010).

Followers Identified In This Movie As Well As Their Behaviour

As per the movie, the followers of Atticus are his own children being Scout and Jem as well as the convict being Tom. Scout is the girl child who is also the narrator and protagonist as per the story. She is intelligent and a tomboy. Scout further has a presence of combative streak and faith in goodness of people. Jem is Scout’s brother who is a typical American boy. Jem has acted as a close companion and protector of Scout throughout the movie. Tom is the follower as Atticus represented himself as his lawyer. Tom was black and accused of rape. He is one of the mockingbirds of the film and is also an important symbol of innocence that has been destroyed by evil.
These two characters are the true followers of Atticus which has been clearly identified by their roles and behaviour. They both follow all the instructions of Atticus and also have the characteristics of him in terms of being against racism (Miffin, 2015). They further stood in support of their leader cum father during hard times and portrayed true traits of a follower. Tom is also a follower as it was only Atticus, who showed concern towards the feelings of Tom. Atticus was a white America but still had a concern for Tom. This act of Atticus really touched Tom. This is even clear as he said to Atticus you seemed to try more than the rest of them.

Characteristics Displayed By Atticus As A Leader With Evidence 

This theory was defined in the year 1930s. The theory argues that a leader should possess a set of well-defined attributes and traits to be an effective leader. This is likely to help the person in terms of leading a set of people. In this regard, Atticus has shown the many characteristics and traits of effective leader such as integrity, determination, and risk taker, decision making and righteous. These are further described in detail in the below mentioned paragraphs. 

A leader must be Righteous in his virtues – Every leader is required to have one important trait of being righteous (Gardner and Laskin, 2011). He should have the quality of supporting what is right and being against all the wrong doing.  Atticus proved himself as a leader in this area of being righteous. Atticus has been serving the community as a lawyer and has been equal to all the races including the black ones. It is this quality because of which he took the rape case of Tom and tried to stand for him till the end. He also made an attempt to influence the minds of the younger generation about the concept of what was right on Racism.

Effective leaders are empathetic – Atticus was an empathetic leader. It can be evidenced form the following grounds. Atticus once said during the movie that you can never relay understand a person until you climb into his skin and take a walk around. In the same way, one of characters named Walter Cunningham made an attempt to hang Atticus for acting ion defence of Tom. Atticus said that Walter Cunningham is good by heart. It id just that he possess a few blind spots. Yes, he has hurt me a little but he will understand me once he gets older. Another incident to prove the empathy of Atticus is when Bob Ewell spat on Atticus’s face during court’s trial. Atticus said if Bob Ewell can save Mayella Ewell by spitting on my face and threatening me then I am glad to take the spitting.

Effective leaders lead by example- Atticus had been single handily handling the children. He taught his children about how to differentiate between right and wrong. He also set his own personal example in this scenario. He also gave enough independence to Jem and Scout for making their own decisions. However, Atticus further ensured to warn the children whenever he felt that they were going too far in there games and excursions. It was because of these qualities that Atticus was able to gain respect in front of children (Brett and McKay, 2011). Moreover, the bonding between father and son grew tougher by the end of story. It is clear as Atticus used to enter Jem's room during night, turned out the light and would be there all morning until Jem woke up. Atticus attracted as a father as well as friend for his children. Atticus was further able to gain pretext on the minds of his children as he never talked down with them nor did he lied. He was always straight forward and honest and listened to both the sides before taking a decision. Thus he gained respect of his children who were also his followers till the end (Zwick, 2010). 

Honest & trustworthiness are the requisites of a great leader – Atticus agrees to defend the black man tom but the many citizens of Maycomb's disapprove. Many people force and taunt him on several ways but then also Atticus tries his best to defend Tom. It was because of leadership qualities, he was honest and trustworthy. Atticus keeps his promises and responsibilities over his personal matters and children security.

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A leader does the jobs no one else wants to do – Atticus Finch obeyed this virtue of being a leader. This is as he was determined to represent Tom fairly in the court. A movie character being Miss Maudie even told Jem that there are some men who are born to do unpleasant jobs for the sake of we people. Your father is amongst them. Doing the undesirable jobs is a most important virtue of leader so as to earn respect. This is clear as Atticus received many taunts and threats for doing the job of representing Tom in the court. Still he did it. In this way, he was able to set an example for all. 

Leader should be Sharp- Citizens of Maycomb's already judged Tom as a criminal but Atticus was only one who perceives that Tom was innocent. The quality of sharp perception was in Atticus.

A greater Leader has Risk Taking quality- Atticus was also taking the risk to defend the black men and for this he was taking risk of his carrier and family. The great leader always takes the right risks at the right time.

Determination is an essential virtue of a leader– Atticus was determined to give fair representation to tom and he puts all his efforts to defend him. In Maycomb no one wanted to defend a black man but Atticus take a stand and also determined to defend him. This is a quality of leader who knows that the right thing have to be done (Kouzes and Posner, 2006).

Courage is an important virtue of leadership- Atticus shows the physical courage in this story. He possessed the moral courage which includes the strength to stick with Tom and decides to do the right thing, even when all citizens were disagreeing. This is a quality of a good leader.

With the help of all these leadership qualities, Atticus shows that a single person has the ability to make a huge difference. He developed the opportunity for Tom to have a choice for his judgement. He worked and stood quietly for right thing at the right time when it was needed. Atticus gives lesson that leadership starts with a single person and it is ability to lead the other by doing the right thing.

Leadership Styles In Movie

In above context the leadership traits and characteristics of Atticus are demonstrated. In this movie the leadership style possessed by Atticus is a mixture of many. The movie has been portrays Atticus as being Charismatic as well as Visionary leader.

Visionary – As a leader Atticus had a vision to help Tom from the shackles of racism. No other character in the film had the courage to be so clear about his principles and vision. He was the only one who take stand to defend Tom, who was the black man. He was willing to make himself exposed and vulnerable. He faced inertial resistance but still regulated all his emotions in terms of reactive sabotage. He even had a clear vision for his children. He told Jem that he wanted to make him realize what real courage was. It is not about getting a man with a gun in hand. Rather it is about when you aware of being licked but still you begin and are able to see through things no matter what. You rarely win such cases but you sometimes do. He wanted that his both children has been educated and also takes care of morals. The goal of this style is to move the people towards a new direction and same thing has been done by Atticus in this movie. He also takes a stand for a person who was not white in the society. This action of Atticus influence many people to take a stand for racism issues. Atticus as a visionary leader is able to share his view and decisions of the future and also allows followers to understand the motive behind that views and decisions.

Charismatic – Atticus has shown traits of being a charismatic leader as he was able to attract his followers being Scout and Jem on the basis of his charm and personality. He was a father but had trained his kids in such a manner that they were often awed by his presence (Selznick, 2011). Just like a Charismatic leader, Atticus was able to encourage the feeling of commitment and devotions in his followers. He has a good decision making and leading qualities because he takes the decision to defend Tom even many people were creating trouble for him in many ways. His leadership behaviour influences his followers to make the right decision and positively accomplish them by putting all efforts. He was sharing the trustworthy relationship with the all followers and this is the unique quality of leader. Taking the inspiration from Atticus, his son Jem disgrace his own safety but he tries to save his sister Scout. He understands the situation and takes the stand for this violence.

How Can It Be Apply To The Workplace

The leadership qualities as well as the styles followed by Atticus can be applied in the work place of medical sales executive who is providing services to clinics doctors. The manager of medical sales executive can act as a leader here. Just like Atticus, the manager of medical sales executive is required to be Righteous in his virtues. He must treat all the employees fairly and with equality. The employee should be rewarded or promoted slowly on the basis of their work rather than on behalf  of any friendly relations or favourance for caste, colour etc. In the same way, the manager must do jobs no one else wants to do. He should not mind rolling his sleeves up for a tough task. It can be with respect to handling a difficult client on behalf of medical sales assistant or even helping an employee out if his personal issues. In this way the manager can set examples for all just as done by Atticus. Then only the manger can create good as well as trust worthy followers. The manager for medical sales assistant is required to be courageous in terms of physical, intellectual and moral level. Manager must be strong physically so as to handle any issues being faced in the company. In the same way, intellectual strength was also possessed by Atticus. He once said holds your heads high and keeps the fists down. Don’t let anyone take your goat no matter what is said by anyone. You should always try to fight with your head for change. Same is expected from the manager whenever there is a presence of intense change within the company. It may be with respect to downsizing, layoffs or even technological change. Finch even demonstrated the presence of moral courage when he said we must not try to win simply by giving an excuse that we have been licked a hundred years before we even started. In a crux, the manager must try to boost up the morale of all the medical sales executives as and when the need arises. 

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From the report on the movie it can be concluded that Atticus was a great leader with the presence of exceptional qualities. He has even been compared with Martin Luther King Jr by many of the authors. He also had a presence of followers being Scott and Jem who were his own children as well as Tom who was a convict in a rape case. Atticus had a presence of many leadership qualities such as courage, righteousness, Sharp Perception, being a risk taker, determined, honest, and trustworthy as well as a leader who does jobs that no one wants to do (Leadership Lessons from Atticus Finch, 2015). It was on account of these virtues that he was able to make a mark in the minds of his followers as well as the people who were close to him. He even impressed the audiences who saw the movie. The character thrilled the audiences and made them think about him even after the film was no longer on the screen. As a researcher I feel that the movie was basically a show for three hours and had a presence of fictional characters. Atticus was thus able to display a good character and was shown to possess all qualities of a great leader. But the same qualities as well as a perfect character as depicted by Atticus may not exist in reality. This is as life and its truths are far more complex. Same applies to human mind which has its own set of complexities. For example, as per the movie backdrop Atticus was portrayed an extremely good parent as well as a lawyer. But in reality, it may not be possible for a single parent to fulfil all the duties towards the children and be good in one’s own profession as well. This could seem a reality for the time of 1960’s. But applying the same qualities may be difficult in the present times. This is on account of increased duties and difference in prevailing mind-sets.


  • Zwick, P., 2010. To Kill a Mockingbird. Case Western Reserve Law Review. 60(4). pp.1349-1368.
  • Yuki, G., 2010. leadership in organizations. 8th ed. Prentice Hall
  • Selznick, P., 2011. Leadership in administration: A sociological interpretation. Quid Pro Books.
  • Schein, E.H., 2010. Organizational culture and leadership. 2nd ed. John Wiley & Sons.
  • Mills, C., 2011. To Kill a Mockingbird. Insight Publications.
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