This movie mentions about two political parties of the USA having serious conflict in choosing the Vice-President. (The conflict seems to be a task conflict. Actually, it is a relationship conflict. Studies demonstrate that relationship conflicts are almost always dysfunctional. It appeals that the friction and interpersonal hostilities inherent in relationship conflicts increase personality clashes and decrease mutual understanding, thereby hindering the completion of organizational tasks. ) Actually, the conflict is based on the relationship between Evans, the President and Runyon, the Chairman of Republican Party.
The relationship between Evans and Runyon is very worse. Runyon always rejects everything proposed by Evans. It is because Evans criticized him too seriously during the previous President election. Runyon also wanted to be the President but is defeated by Evans. When the sitting Vice-President dies suddenly, Laine, a female Senator is chosen by the President to be the first woman to hold the office. The Republican Party Chairman seeks everything to hinder the appointment of Laine to be the Vice-President because he claims that Laine is incapable. The nomination meets with opposition from members of both Republican and Democratic parties.
Her confirmation hearings set off a firestorm of controversy as shocking secrets from her past are revealed, threatening her personal life as well as her political future. Those who support the nomination and those who do not support the nomination form two different groups and attack each other. Some of them exchange information with other parties' junior members in order to get more influence. The Republican Party Chairman has said, "Politic is the extension of war". This implies that he only regards that using his power to influence others illegitimately needs to fight with each other.
The Republican Party Chairman is also the Chairman of House of Parliament. He uses his power to hold the Confirmation of Hearings in order to hinder the appointment of Laine to be the Vice-President by the sexual scandal and other humiliating events. Laine uses the avoiding strategy (unassertive and uncooperative) to handle the scandal because she feels that dignity is more important than the truth of the scandal. Therefore, she chooses not to defend. If she tries to defend, it means women have sexual activities before marriage are wrong. She wonders why no one criticizes about men's sexual activities before marriage but women.
She thinks that sexual activities before marriage is no big deal for women (the same as men). However, I think it is not a good way to handle the conflict by avoiding strategy. Because this makes another conflict between Laine and the President's assistants who feel very frustrated why Laine does not defend. (Is there anything that cannot be told behind the scandal? Actually, the scandal is just a rumor. ) I suggest that Laine should use the collaborating strategy (assertive and cooperative). She should show all the evidences that the scandal is not true.
After that, she should advocate her principles and standpoints such as the equity of women and men. The statement quoted by the President's assistant is quite true. "Most of the American regard every affair of the Vice-President as their own. " It is because political star needs to sacrifice his/her personal life. When there is a lot of bad news attacking Laine, the President uses relationship-oriented style to handle the case initially. He expresses his concern and support to Laine. He also seeks some methods to motivate her, lead her to handle the scandal and overcome the difficulties.
Werster, a young Democratic Congressman coalesces with the Republican Party to attack Laine because he has gender bias. Actually, a lot of Democratic members also have this bias at that time. However, the President and Laine forgive him because Werster is too young and is utilized by the Republic Party Chairman. They both show their leadership by showing magnanimity. The President sends his assistants to persuade the Republican Party Chairman to reach a compromise but fails. The Republican Party Chairman just wants to get a win-loss outcome and makes no concession. However, he proposes to choose the Governor of Virginia as the Vice-President.
(This Governor paid money to a girl and ordered her to drive the car to rush into the river. Then he pretended to be very brave and dived into water to save her. However, the girl drowned. This Governor became a hero because of his "brave action"). The Republican Party Chairman wants the President to choose this Governor because he has good relations with this Governor. If this Governor is chosen as the Vice-President, he will have more power to influence or even hinder the President. However, the President feels that there is something suspicious about the "heroic action" of this Governor.
The President sends FBI to investigate this "hero". The President is a transformational leader. He pays attention to the concerns and developmental needs of individual followers (such as Laine); he changes followers' awareness of issues by helping them to look at old problems in new ways (such as Werster); and he is able to excite, arouse, and inspire followers to put out extra effort to achieve group goals (such as his speech). The President shows his visionary leadership by introducing a woman as the Vice-President who has her new standard for women. Laine devotes to her principle. For example, she stands for women's right to choose.
She stands for election campaign reform. She stands for the separation of religion and Government. At the end of the movie, the speech of the President addressing to all the political parties is very impressive showing his charismatic leadership. He canvasses all political parties to join together eliminating bias/ignoring their differences and accept his nomination of Laine for the future of United States. His speech earns a lot of respect. According to the Fiedler Contingency Model (please refer to P. 321 of Organizational Behavior Robbins ed 9), the situation of President is in the Category V.
Leader-member relations for the President with others are poor in this case (the members from the Republican Party and even some of those from the Democratic Party against the nomination of a woman cause poor relations with the members. However, it is difficult to measure the degree of these relations. ). Task structure is high (the jobs, roles and responsibilities of all the members of the Government are well structured and procedurized. ). Position power is weak (he is weak in this case because the nomination needs to get through the House of Parliament.
However, half of the vote is controlled by the Republican Party and the other half is controlled by the Democratic Party. Moreover, there are seven members of the Democratic Party who will vote against the nomination. ). Thus, the performance of either task-oriented or relationship-oriented leader can only be fair. Refer to the Path-Goal theory, Robert House assumes leaders are flexible and that the same leader can display any or all of these behaviors depending on the situation. The President exhibits supportive and participative behavior when he faces Laine in order to motivate her. The President also exhibits development-oriented behavior.
He values experimentation, seeks new ideas and generates and implements change by nominating a woman in order to get more contribution from female talent. However, he exhibits directive and achievement-oriented behavior when he faces the Republican Party. During his speech, he exhibits his directive and achievement-oriented leadership by showing his iron-willed nomination of a woman. Despite great difficulties, he (uses all his effort/power) demonstrates to eliminate those who have bias/ignore justice, to stop the conflict and to heal the country after the political fight. His determined goal is the prosperous future of the States.
He is self-confident and courageous in achieving this idealized goal. Sometimes, conflicts between two parties may lead to better decision for the country. Appropriate conflict will create new idea for improvement and remind the President to think carefully before appointing a new Vice-President. However, the conflict becomes a political fight, which is too severe and hinders the operation of the President. And this dysfunctional conflict causes a lot of trouble to USA and causes a lot of anxiety to the United State Citizens. The Republican Party Chairman uses the competing strategy (assertive and uncooperative) to handle the conflicts.
Initially, the President uses the method of compromising to handle the case. However, the Republican Party Chairman does not want to compromise. Eventually, the President uses the competing strategy to handle the conflict. (He sets the Chairman up by asking him to support the Governor. The President asks the Chairman to make an announcement of guaranteeing that the best choice is the Governor with the Chairman's credibility. After the announcement, the President discloses the true of the drowned girl making the Chairman to lose all his credibility.
The President defeats the Chairman. However, I think this is a little pitfall of the President. It is because integrity is one of the traits for a leader. ) Another pitfall of the President is that he wants to choose the one having the similar standpoint of him. I think that he is right to a certain extent but people with different opinions can create new ideas. At the end of the conflict, the country greatly suffers and the Republican Party Chairman loses all his credibility. From this movie, I learn that we should be justice and use the appropriate strategy for handling conflict.
We should not exaggerate the task conflict to relationship conflict. Dysfunctional conflict hinders organizational tasks and even causes damage to the one who exaggerates the conflict based on untrue, bias, unjust or selfish. However, functional conflict basing on improvement of the whole organization is preferred and should be advocated. Moreover, appropriate strategy is required to be chosen for handling different types of conflict. Probably, collaborative strategy is always the choice for most cases. On one occasion, the R&D manager of my company designed a product, which was too difficult to be manufactured.
Due to the deadline of launching this product, the R&D manager insisted that they would not change the design. On the other hand, the manufacturing manager stopped the production and insisted that it was too difficult to be produced and was no good for the quality. They both used competing strategies. Actually, the relations between them were worse due to their previous argument (similar to the movie). At that time, the general manager showed his transformational leadership and tried to resolve the conflicts. He listened to all the reasons from both managers and paid attention to their concerns.
(He showed supportive and participative behavior. ) He calmed them down in a more relaxing environment and said, "You both are right and the problem is lack of communications. (I think the problem was not only communications but also structure conflict and relationship conflict. ) The product needs running change and all the products manufactured before the complete change can only be used for demonstration and quality & reliability test. (He used a compromising strategy in this case. ) The R&D and the manufacturing colleagues must meet together during the design phase in order to eliminate the communications problem.
(He suggested a collaborating strategy for them in the future. ) However, functional conflicts in the design phase should be advocated. You both need to collaborate and resolve the differences. " (This conversation showed that the general manager also used the directive behavior. ) In general, my position power is high, my leader-member relations are mid range and my task structure is mid range in my job. However, there is no mid range for the Fiedler model. Moreover, leader-member relations and position power are different in different situations.
If I want to make a decision, which is beneficial to some colleagues, I will have good relations with these colleagues. Basically, if I want to change the working attitude of my subordinates, I will have strong position power. (I will use directive and achievement-oriented style. ) But if I want to change those who have special knowledge, I will encounter great difficulty. (I will use supportive and participative style. ) Thus, I better to follow Robert House who suggests that one should exhibit different leadership behaviors depending on different situations.