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Leadership Team Project

12 Angry Men (1957 film)

Leaders 481-DL SEC 57

Northwestern University

Spring 2012

Mark Dillard, Mike Nowak, Matt Reid & Valerie Torres

Dillard, Nowak, Reid & Torres



In 1957, United Artists released the film 12 Angry Men. The film featured Henry Fonda and a

host of future stars including Lee J. Cobb, Jack Warden and Jack Klugman. With the exception

of the court scene at the beginning of the movie the rest of the film takes place in one room: the

jury room. According to movie statistics, ninety-three minutes were filmed in the jury room

compared to three minutes filmed elsewhere. The plot of the movie involves a jury of twelve

men who struggle to reach a verdict in a capital murder trial. It takes place on the hottest day of

the year in a cramped jury room with no air conditioning. The heat in the room adds to the

drama. With the exception of the parting shot of the movie there are no names used. Throughout

the rest of the paper jurors will be referred to by their juror number. For example, Juror 1 is the

jury foreman. The following list will provide a key to the jurors.






Martin Balsam

Jury foreman

Task orientated


John Fielder

Bank clerk

Meek & mild temperament


Lee J. Cobb


Temper & has family baggage


E. G. Marshall


Rational & never sweats


Jack Klugman

Young Man

Grew up in slums


Edward Binns

House painter



Jack Warden


Sports fan


Henry Fonda



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9 Joseph Sweeney

The old man

Wise & observant

10 Ed Begley

Garage Owner


11 George Voskovec


Naturalized citizen

12 Robert Webber

Advertising exec.


The case involves a young Hispanic man who is accused of killing his father. He had an

argument with him earlier in the day which was overheard by several witnesses. Later that

evening his father was found dead, having been stabbed in the chest with switchblade knife. As

he came home that evening, police detectives were waiting and he was subsequently arrested. He

was put on trial for capital murder.

As the film opens, the judge is giving the twelve men his orders and they proceed to the jury

room. The room has a large rectangular wood table in the center and on one side of the room

three large windows are present. There is one fan in a corner of the room although it is not

working. There is also a men’s room off one side of the room. Many of the jury have already

decided the case and want to go home. One juror, however, is not convinced.

As the movie continues this one juror tries to move the jury to his side. There are multiple times

when the jurors go to the windows and the men’s room where they discuss their feelings about

the case. At first they open the windows to escape the heat and have to close them later due to a

heavy rainstorm. At other times they are going to the men’s room to wash their faces in an

attempt to cool down. The heat and humidity play a key role in the movie.

As they attempt to come to a consensus they review the key evidence in the case. There is the old

man from the apartment below who testified that he saw the accused running by his door shortly

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after he heard the murder victim fall to the floor. Then there is the lady that witnessed the murder

through an EL train from the apartment across the street. Finally, there is the one of a kind

switchblade knife that was the murder weapon. As they go around the room each juror provides

their reason or reasons why the evidence points to their conclusion. They request that evidence

be brought into jury room and reenact parts of the murder. During these discussions there are

multiple jury votes. During the movie there are several heated arguments and threats.

As the movie progresses it takes a number of twists and turns. The heat and confrontations were

captured by the black & white film using angles and close ups for special effects. You can see

the men sweat as the room and tempers heat up. You witness the power struggles as key jurors

emerge trying to sway the jury to their way of thinking. The film shows how people bring their

personal experiences and prejudices into play. The film highlights a number of different

leadership styles and is often used in leadership courses. The film was nominated for Best

Director, Best Picture, and Best Writing of Adapted Screenplay. However, the film lost in all

three categories to the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai.

Leaders And The Style They Portrayed

These 12 jurors offered a vast array of leadership styles and traits. We will briefly cover each of

the 12 jurors and then highlight a select few that we found fruitful to study in depth.

Juror 1

This juror was the appointed leader from the outset of the movie as the named “Juror Foreman”.

However, as the movie progressed, we quickly see that he was ill equipped as a

multidimensional leader. The action logic of this juror was that of a diplomat. The diplomat’s

leadership trait is characterized as “going with the flow” and “not rocking the boat”. Whilst this

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trait can serve as a bonding element on a team it also carries with it a leadership platform risk

that is not conducive to making the tough decisions. It is of paramount importance that a leader

must be able to have the strength of character to see a transformative solution that, almost

always, leads to a better outcome (Rooke and Torbert, 2011). This character took more and more

of a back seat as the true leaders drove the dialogue.

Juror 2

The second juror was a bank clerk. It was his absence of leadership skills that had us see him as

more of a follower than a leader. He did have an open mind and expressed a wanting to do the

right thing. He did also show hints of leadership skills when he reminded others of the

importance of the task at hand.

Juror 3

This juror proved to be a centerpiece of the movie as the angriest of the 12 angry men. He carried

with him his own personal difficulties with his son and his son’s friends as historic baggage. He

was loud and intimidating and accusatory. A pivotal point in the movie came about when juror 8

baited juror 3 into a flight and in the heat of the battle juror 3 proclaimed “get out of my way…

I’ll kill him” (Lumet, 1957) and juror 8 calmly responded “you don’t really mean you will kill

me do you?” (Lumet, 1957) This is the point in the movie where juror 3 lost his leadership

influence over the other jurors.

Juror 4

A stockbroker by trait, juror 4 was logical and rational. He certainly stood up for his values when

he saw the logic in an argument. In other words, he was flexible enough to change his mind as he

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saw fit. For example, when it was cited that the main witness to the murder was proven as not

having her glasses on and being quite far away from the event, juror number 4 was enough of his

own individual possessing strong core values that he changed his mind when this logic was


Juror 5

This juror grew up in the slums and possessed compassion for the accused. He provided insight

into the proper handling of a switchblade. In this regard, his action logic was that of an “expert”

and he was a good individual contributor (Rooke and Torbert, 2011). That stated, he was not a

major transformational leader in the movie.

Juror 6

Juror 6 was a housepainter and was more of a follower than a leader. He had a minor role in the

grand scheme of the movie.

Juror 7

This juror really served to offer comic relief in my opinion. He was absolutely obsessed with

baseball and had a warped value system. A young man’s life was at stake and all juror 7 wanted

to do was cast a verdict and get out of there and head straight over to the ball park. In one scene

when the ballot was cast as 6 to 6, juror 7 exclaimed “well, there you have it, it looks like we are

going into extra innings” (Lumet, 1957). I would characterize the leadership action logic of juror

7 as an “opportunist” but also possessing a flawed value system. Very few followers will every

follow an “opportunist” for long (Rooke and Torbert, 2011).

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This juror was our level 5 leader and the star of the show (Collins, 2001). He possessed “inspired

standards” (Collins, 2001) and took it upon himself to lead the way toward the young man’s

acquittal. One by one juror 8 methodically worked on each of the other jurors doing whatever it

took to bring them over to his side. As a level 5 leader, juror 8 showed us his strong will to drive

toward success despite the cost and his empathy for others (Collins, 2001). The later was so

brilliantly expressed when, in the closing scene, juror 8 walks over to a broken man in juror 3

and helps him put his jacket on. This was the man that just minutes before had threatened to kill

juror 8!

Juror 9

This juror was the oldest of the 12 and was quite logical and fact based in his style. He found a

kindred spirit in juror 8. He also shared a key insight when he recalled the impression left on the

bridge of the nose that comes only as a byproduct of wearing glasses. The old man’s particular

testimony proved to bring more jurors over the fence to the “not guilty” side. In this regard, his

leadership action logic was that of an “expert” and he was both a strong and insightful individual

contributor (Rooke and Torbert, 2011).

Juror 10

Juror 10 was a loud bigoted older man with a warped value system. He was so far off the mark in

his analysis toward the end of the movie there is a scene where one by one each of the jurors

physically turned their backs to juror 10 in his last attempt to be a persuasive leader. Despite his

attempts to be a contributing team member on the “guilty” side, he too finally saw the logic and

flipped over to the “not guilty” side.

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This juror was a watchmaker and not a natural born citizen. His role was not that of a

transformational leader but he did share compassion and empathy for young boy. He also

illustrated in his action that he wanted to do the right thing and was a contributor in many of the

murder scene reenactments. He had the intestinal fortitude and strength of character to express

early on that he had “reasonable doubt”.

Juror 12

Juror 12 was a young narcissistic executive. His character was much less of a leader and more of

a follower. He flipped and flopped with that of the consensus. Juror 12 expressed the leadership

action logic of an “expert” however he lacked the emotional intelligence to rise up as a

persuasive leader (Rooke and Torbert, 2011).

We thought it prudent to further investigate the leadership traits and styles of the 3 primary

leaders in the movie. These leaders are juror 1, juror 3, and juror 8.

Leadership Success & Failure

According to Peter Drucker, effective leaders ask themselves eight important questions that help

them achieve effectiveness when leading (Drucker, 2004). Robert Quinn also identifies a state

reached by leaders facing crisis where they are at their best, he calls it “the fundamental state of

leadership” (Quinn, 2005). Using mostly Drucker’s guidelines and Quinn’s description of the

fundamental state of leadership, we examined the level of effectiveness and success of the

identified leaders.

Juror 1

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After analyzing Juror 1’s leadership style, we found it to be an unsuccessful one. This

conclusion was reached after contrasting his style with Drucker’s guidelines, and Quinn’s

principles of fundamental leadership. As the established Foreman, he was somehow the

appointed leader of the group; therefore he was call to help the jurors in the fulfillment of the

mission that had been bestowed upon them. Nevertheless, at the beginning of the movie he

failed to ask himself and to the rest of the group the two main questions that Drucker says are the

ones that effective leaders do to themselves: “what needs to be done?” and “what is right for the

enterprise?” (Drucker, 2004). Juror 1 simply stated that he did not have any rules and was open

to do whatever the group felt more like it. After the men decided to go for a first ballot, he

agreed, and started it. After the results of this first ballot, he did not seem very open to discuss

the possibility of a not guilty verdict: following Juror 12’s advice, he started the discussion by

trying to convince Juror 8 that “he was wrong and the rest of the men were right” (Lumet, 1957).

His inability to answer the previously mentioned questions made him unable to successfully

follow the rest of the guidelines that Drucker state that effective leaders do. For example, by not

having these answers, “the action plan developed” (Drucker, 2004) had a distorted focus: instead

of approaching the analysis of the two possible outcomes (e.g. guilty, not guilty) he allowed the

discussion to be focused on convincing Juror 8 that he had an erroneous perspective. His

diplomatic style (Rooke and Torbert, 2011) and his inability to live a situational approach 1 when

leading, contributed to the lack of success as the appointed leader: a person’s life was at stake

here, the appointed leader should have taken a Strategist style (2005) rather than a Diplomatic

one (2005).

1 According to the explanations provided by Dr. Glen Fogerty on Situational Leadership; the explanations are located in Corse Content, folder Session #4

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When we analyzed Juror 1, in light of Robert Quinn’s principles of the fundamental state of

leadership, we found that he was mostly in his normal state (Quinn, 2005) and failed to enter into

the fundamental state (2005). Instead of “moving toward possibilities that didn’t exist” (2005)

such as facing the possibility of the presence of reasonable doubt, he remained at “his comfort

zone” (2005) by initially trying to convince Juror 8 of his “inaccuracy”. He also displayed to be

“complying with others’ expectations” (2005) by initially trying to do whatever the group felt

more like it. For example, some jurors in the group, who believed the boy to be guilty, were not

open to discussing the evidence or even listening to what others had to say: in the discussion

following the first secret ballot, Juror 10 initially attempted to talk about something else, and

afterwards Jurors 3 and 12 started to play cross-zero. In both occasions Juror 1 failed to “initiate

productive conflict” (2005) by correcting the jurors and reminding them the purpose of the

deliberation meeting.

Juror 3

As the movie progresses and the different jurors take parts with the two possible verdicts, Juror 3

stands out the most among the jurors that sustain that the accused boy is guilty.

After analyzing

his leadership style we found it to be an unsuccessful one. At the end of the movie there is a

scene that depicts his failure. In it the rest of the jurors look at him in a way that reflects lack of

confidence towards him and in his perspective (Lumet, 1957). This showed how, during the

deliberation process, he failed to establish good relationships with the rest of the jurors, proving

to have a significant lack of what Goleman calls social skills (1996). For example, he constantly

yelled at the jurors who did not share his opinion (e.g. Juror 9), and once attempted to physically

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Juror 3 also failed to realize “what needed to be done, and what was the right thing to do”

(Drucker, 2004). Because of his prejudiced against the boy he was unable to objectively ask

himself these questions, and as a result he took the case personally and wanted the boy to be

convicted regardless of the evidence that was brought to his attention. According to George,

Sims, McLean, and Mayer, authentic leaders’ style “emerges from their own life stories” (2007).

In the present case, we also see how a significantly bad experience can negatively impact

someone’s leadership style, and obscure a person’s judgment. The relationship of Juror 3 with

his son also made him linger in what Quinn calls the normal state of leadership: Juror 3

“remained in his comfort zone and did not move towards other possibilities” (2005). For

example, ever since the beginning of the deliberation process he was determined to declare the

boy guilty, and up until the end he held his position without wanting to consider the possibility of

reasonable doubt.

Juror 3 also failed to “focus more on opportunities rather than problems” (Drucker, 2004).

Instead of realizing that he had the opportunity of making sure that justice was made, he looked

at the boy and the whole case as a problem for society. This attitude is reflected when he says to

Juror 2 that “we’d be better off if we took these tough kids and slapped’em down before they

make trouble, you know? Save us a lot of time and money” (Lumet, 1957).

He also failed in

helping to “run a productive meeting” (2004). Throughout the deliberation meeting he was

ruthless in his words toward others, did not want to listen to others’ opinions, constantly yelled

when expressing his point of view, and turned the discussion into a contest in which there were

opponents to his cause.

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Juror 8’s leadership style proved to be successful from the beginning until the end. His

persistence, and his ability to communicate his perspectives, helped the rest of the group in the

discovery of the mission that they had at hands. His success in helping the group to be freed

from their prejudices and superficiality during the deliberation process, proved him to be a

successful leader.

Using Drucker’s guidelines we find that Juror 8 was able to ask himself the two main questions

presented by Drucker in “What Makes an Effective Leader”. Juror 8 asked himself and the rest

of the group “what needs to be done?” (2004) and “what is right for the enterprise?” (2004). The

first question was reflected in his comments “I just want to talk” and “we are talking about

somebody’s life here, we can’t decide in five minutes. Suppose we are wrong” (Lumet, 1957).

As for the second question, we can see as the enterprise the state of New York and the whole

judicial system which has as one of its principles that if there is any reasonable doubt the accused

should be declared not guilty. Having an answer to these questions made possible the

establishment of an action plan (Drucker, 2004), which consisted in the thorough analysis of the

evidence and the testimonies. He also took responsibility for decision (2004) and for

communication (2004). When he suggested the first secret ballot he stated that if everybody

voted guilty he would then change his vote, but if at least one of the jurors changed his vote, he

and the rest of the group would compromise to discuss it further. After Juror 9 changed his vote,

Juror 8 continued to take his responsibility very seriously by carefully analyzing all the pieces of

evidence, and by recreating the different scenes of the night of the crime.

He was also very

open when communicating to others his visions and conclusions. Even though the meeting was

run by Juror 1, as the movie progresses the whole deliberation process seems to be run and even

preside by Juror 8. We can see this when the voting reaches 11-1 in favor of acquittal, Juror 8 is

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the one that approaches Juror 3 and, in the name of the group, demands for an explanation

regarding his vote. Unlike other jurors, he was more “focused on opportunities rather than

problems” (2004). For example, when we compared him to Juror 7, we found that while Juror 7

was focused on seeing a discussion as a problem, given that he wanted to get to a Yankees’ game

on time, Juror 8 focused in the opportunity of giving the boy a fair trial according to the

principles of the US Constitution.

Juror 8 perfectly depicts the different principles of leaders acting in a fundamental state of

leadership (Quinn, 2005) which, according to Quinn, is a state where leaders are at their best

(2005). When the first vote is taken, Juror 8 is confronted with a crisis: he seems undecided

about the boy’s responsibility in the murder of his father, and he’s facing 11 men who are

resolute in declaring the boy guilty.

In this situation, Juror 8 stayed true to himself (Kaplan,

2007) and did not “complied with others’ expectations but instead became more internally

directed” (Quinn, 2005). For example, he stated to the rest of the group that he was not sure

about the boy’s responsibility and wanted to talk about it. He valued human life and therefore

could not bring himself to send a person to death row without “talking about it first”. Contrary

to some of the jurors (e.g. Juror 7, 10) who were eager to finish the discussion, Juror 8 was

“focused on the needs of others” (2005). For example, he was focused on the possible death

sentence that the boy could face; this led him to focus in the boy’s need of having a sound and

objective jury.

With his attitude he succeeded in gaining “the trust and respect of others”

(2005). For example, Juror 9 changed his initial vote in order to give him a chance of discussing

his point of view.

In the end Juror 8’s conduct and leadership style was able to help the group see beyond the

superficiality of the panorama, and gradually helped the others in turning themselves in leaders

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among the group.

As the movie progressed one by one of the jurors switch their votes out of a

conviction of the existence of reasonable doubt. At the end, a man’s life is spared and the juror’s

leave the room knowing that the verdict was reached after a careful and thorough analysis, and

with unbiased conviction.

Real World Leadership

In 12 Angry Men, the leadership styles of jurors 1, 3, and 8 range from consensus-seeking to

opportunistic to authentic. While providing an enjoyable cinematic experience, only one of the

three styles would work consistently under real world situations. Jurors 1, and especially 3, only

initially succeed in leading the group. However, as other jurors acquiesce and vote not guilty

under juror 8’s investigative discussion, the once established groupthink breaks down. Juror 8’s

earnest self-investigative approach allows each individual to “discover common truths and

facts—truths that transcend preference, prejudice, fear, and competitive jockeying” (Clemens,


Juror 1, acting as the harried jury foreman, evokes a sense of urgency by stating, “there’s no

point in staying here all night… Hey, let’s hold it down. These side arguments are only holding

us up!” He opts for consensus to quell confrontation rather than leading disagreeing parties to

resolution. His diplomacy aimed at regulating debate by avoiding conflict and obeying the norm

portrays a delegating leadership style. In instances where followers require elevated supportive

or directive behavior, such as high-risk civil service functions, an impoverished manager would

lack organizational tasking and empathy for members of his/her group. The consequences of

such an attitude could be grave. Additionally, juror 1 begrudgingly takes on the responsibility as

foreman. Here, he shows a lack in self-regulation which is a critical factor in great leaders today.

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Juror 3 lacks any skills required to wield emotional intelligence. He has no empathy towards the

defendant and even expresses the desire to “pull the switch” while acting as one of the

executioners. He shows no desire to take the boy’s feelings into consideration even though the

gravity of his decision means certain death. In the business world, empathy in leadership is

required when making intelligent decisions involving peoples’ emotions. Goleman states that in

modern business empathy is a key component due to the increasing use of teams; the rapid pace

of globalization; and the growing need to retain talent (Goleman, 2011).

Juror 3’s lack of social skills is apparent as he often yells at others and is unwilling to listen to

the rest of the group. By doing this, he loses his credibility which is also one of the most critical

factors in being an authentic leader. Goleman defines social skill as friendliness with a purpose:

moving people in a desired direction (Goleman, 2011). However, juror 3’s decision-making is

based on biased personal experiences—his estranged son—and his lack of communication. He

makes a conscious effort to motivate people through humiliation, peer pressure, and

manipulation. In the business world, this lack of effective bond building with others limits an

individual’s ability to stitch together kindred spirits. Teaming building has become the most

effective tool to get work done through tightly grouped sets of people. Additionally, team

leadership requires the effective management of relationships while being externally open.

Juror 3 also lacks self-regulation. Goleman defines self-regulation as the component of

emotional intelligence that frees us from being prisoners of our feelings (Goleman, 2011). Juror

3 continually disrespected the opinions of the other jurors and in one instance came close to

physically assaulting juror 8. He lacked the ability to channel his emotional baggage away from

the task at hand. In fact, juror 3 could have transformed his own frustration into a constructive

outlet enabling him to feel empathy for the young defendant. People who are reasonable are able

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to create an environment of trust and fairness (Goleman, 2011). In modern business integrity, the

ability to deal with change and thoughtfulness are highly sought after aspects in leaders. Our

economy relies on the global market. Emotional self-regulation enables an individual to

affectively deal with people of varying ethnicities, backgrounds, and traditions.

Juror 8 emerges as an authentic leader early in the storyline. Clemens illuminates juror 8’s

leadership when he observed:

“Persuasion—convincing strangers to consider new perspectives,

new insights, new goals—is a fundamental, challenging task of

leadership because it requires a deep investment of personal

character, mental stamina, and a capacity for emotional insight

perfectly balanced with the ability to reason. Logic and abundant

feeling combine to persuade” (Clemens, 1999).

Juror 8 had the ability to discern the behavioral signals of people. He displayed empathy by

attending to their dispositions, needs, orientation, and concerns regarding the case and their own

personal lives (Goleman, 2011). Through his use of empathy, juror 8 persuaded his peers to

reconsider their positions. This further strengthened his leadership. Moreover, he had no official

authority other than being one of the 12. His leadership required no title (Lee, 2009). His

empathy even stretched over to the young defendant, whose life was in his hands, and to juror 3

even after all that was said and done.

Values form the basis for authentic leadership and part of authentic leadership are those values

translated into actions (George et al., 2011). Juror 8 breaks apart some traditional assumptions by

showing us that a quiet person can lead, majorities don’t always rule, slowing down can be more

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useful than speeding up, and decisions cannot and should not succeed independent from their

meaning (Clemens, 1999). Juror 8’s emotional intelligence provided him the ability to transcend

from managing the other jurors to leading them. In today’s business environment, empathy and

social skill are regarded on the same level as technological prowess and cognitive ability.

Motivating others to preform at their top level and then pushing them beyond their preset

limitations requires leaders to build rapport with teams of followers. By managing relationships,

leaders can move people in desired directions (Goleman, 2011).

Additionally, the strength of juror 8’s argument arises not from overbearing, preeminent

certitude but rather from intellectual humility. What he doesn’t know is every bit as important as

what he does know (Lee, 2009). His desire to seek more knowledge opened the door for his

fellow jurors to feel free to postulate other possibilities and question the presented evidence.

Level 5 leaders have deep personal humility with an intense professional will (Collins, 2011).

Juror 8’s earnest reservations, rather than his earnest presumption of guilt, give energy to his

argument and cause the other jurors to think more critically (Lee, 2009). Collins uses the term

“flywheel” to define the desire of a leader to push their followers or organization with consistent

effort until the momentum increases into an explosion he calls the breakthrough point (Collins,


Alternative Leadership Methods

After carefully examining the selected leaders, Juror 1, 3, and 8, and proving that Juror 8’s

leadership style was the most effective of all, we concluded that his style depicts the proposed

alternative method of leadership for the rest of the jurors in the present situation.

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The circumstances presented in the movie required the presence of at least one strategist who

would be able to “generate personal transformations” among the group (Rooke and Torbert,

2011) by challenging the jurors to look beyond their preconceptions. It also required leaders

who would be able to deal with the conflict that emerges from difference of opinions. It was

evident that the boy’s attorney did not put a lot of effort in the defense of his client. Therefore,

there was a need of at least one effective leader among the jurors who would be able to

successfully “collect and interpret soft data” (Goffee and Jones, 2011), “generate personal

transformations and exercise mutual inquiry” (Rooke and Torbert, 2011), and use a directive

style 2 among those who were failing to cope with the responsibility that they had at hands (e.g.

Juror 7, 10). As we have shown throughout the present work, Juror 8’s leadership style satisfied

what was needed for the present situation.

After seeing the lack of success of Juror 1 (a diplomat) and Juror 3 (an opportunist), we also

believe that other approaches mentioned by Rooke and Torbert, such as that of an expert, or an

achiever (2005), would have also proven to be non-viable alternatives. For example, the present

case required a leader who would be able to get the rest of the jurors to go beyond their

prejudices, therefore an achiever would have to be ruled out as an alternative leadership style

because, according to Rooke and Torbert, these types of leaders “often inhibit thinking outside

the box” (2005). On the other hand, when examining the expert’s style, such as the one

portrayed by Juror 4, we also find its ineffectiveness for the present situation. Juror 4’s self-

assurance, made him “treat the opinions of people less expert than himself with contempt”

(2005), making it difficult to accept a different point of view other than the one he had already

set as the correct one.

2 According to the explanations provided by Dr. Glen Fogerty on Situational Leadership; the explanations are located in Corse Content, folder Session #4

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An alternative leadership style that might also would have rendered to be effective for the

present case would have been that of an alchemist. An alchemist capacity for “focusing on the

truth along with his high moral standards” (2005) would have also rendered effective for this

case given that here, a quick and shallow deliberation process could have taken an innocent

man’s life.

In the final analysis it was juror 8’s congruent synergy between his actions and his strong belief

system that made him such a dynamic leader. He took action early on with strong

communication delivered with a high degree of confidence. His empathy and passion brought

followers into his camp one by one. Juror 8 provided a great blue print of an inspired leader.


12 Angry Men is a quintessential leadership story. 12 characters portrayed varying leadership

styles with varying levels of success. Although not every style attributed to the end goal each

example provided us with lessons that we apply in our daily lives.

Decisions, we feel, are always the stronger if the group feels they made the decision rather than

the leader. However, making a successful decision is not as easy as a show of hands. People tend

bring their life experience with them wherever they go. Being sensitive to experiences requires

us to alter our approach. As uncomfortable as it may be altering our approach may mean that the

direct approach is not always the best strategy. Creating an atmosphere where everyone feels

comfortable to share may require more time than you expected. Patience is also a virtue.

One of the most critical lessons to take away is the importance of being true to one’s values and

convictions, even when a majority seems to stand against you. Majorities are not always a

synonym for righteousness or rightness. In real life, the judgment of what is right should not be

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achieved by superficial analysis, or by giving in to the pressure that comes from one’s

surroundings. Just like the film suggest, the effectiveness of being true to oneself, is seeing after

a significant amount of time and effort. During that lapse of time it is important to keep pushing

the flywheel (Collins, 2001). The movie lasts for an hour and a half, in real life these types of

situations can go on for years. Nevertheless, the end is similar to the one in 12 Angry Men: at

some point “the wheel hits the breakthrough point” (2001) rendering profits for one’s extrinsic

and intrinsic motivations (George et al., 2011).

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Clemens, J., Wolff, M. (1999). Movies to Manage By: Lessons in Leadership from Great Films.

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