After studying the course material, there are several questions about Twelve O’ Clock High that I would answer differently: When did General Savage change his leadership style? Why was Savage able to turn the group around? What is the significance of Savage taking the group to the target when everyone else turned back?
Upon arriving at the 918th Bomb Group’s post, Savage realized the lack of discipline and poor performance typical of the unit. For example, after reviewing personnel files, Savage came across Gately – an individual with a strong file. When he realized that Gately was not at his post and was out drinking, Savage relieved him of his Air Exec duties, reassigned him to the position of bomber commander, and assigned all the misfits to his command (“Leper Colony”).
It was at this point of the movie that Savage exhibited a transformational leadership style. He understood that if Gately applied himself, he could be a highly competent officer and pilot. His desire was for Gately to self-actualize and rise from a self-serving to a selfless state. Savage’s desire demonstrated a charismatic leader’s transformational tendencies. By giving Gately a chance to redeem himself, Savage ultimately lead him to a state of empowerment. Gately eventually understood that his actions directly affected the unit's ability to successfully accomplish its mission and goes on to lead the unit in its most critical time.
In the first air mission brief, Savage displayed a charismatic leader's radical, risk-taking nature. By offering a transfer to anyone who wanted one, Savage was betting he could commit the men to his vision – a high-performing, proud unit, capable of conducting precision daylight bombing. A clear vision and sense of mission are critical to a charismatic leader's success.
Dr. Bass’ research identified several key elements within the charisma dimension, including the creation of vision, a sense of mission, infectious pride and followers' trust and...