Leadership is an important aspect of a team’s success. It is often believed that a successful leader is someone with high intelligence, determination and vision. These are certainly qualities that make a candidate meets the technical requirements of the position, but an effective leader should “distinguished by a high degree of emotional intelligence, which includes self-awareness, self regulation, motivation, empathy, and social skill” (Goleman 1998). In the movie, Harry Stamper is brought to the team due to his expertise as a driller. Due to his strong knowledge and skills, he quickly establishes himself as the sole leader of the operation. However, is he an effective leader? The components of emotional intelligence will assess whether Harry is truly an effective leader.
Three of the emotional intelligence components are self-management skills. First component is self-awareness. Self-awareness is “the ability to recognize and understand your emotions and drives along with their effects on others” (Goleman 1998). It allows individuals to honestly assess themselves. Self-aware people are more likely to recognized their own strengths and weaknesses, therefore less likely to take on task they are incapable, as well as better taking constructive criticisms. In the movie Harry was able to demonstrate strong self-awareness. Harry’s goal was very clear: to save the planet and keep his daughter safe. As good as he was in his occupation as a driller, he was aware that him alone cannot complete the task. He therefore recruited members who he believes are the best fit to this operation. He was also aware of his lack of experience in space and allow NASA member Colonel Willie Sharp to prepare the crew of outer space knowledge. With strong self-awareness Harry keeps himself vocal in areas which are his strengths and learn from other members of the area he is weak.
Next is self-regulation. Self-regulation is “the ability to control or redirect disruptive impulses and moods” (Goleman 1998). Bad emotions are one of the reasons behind heated arguments. It prevents us from being reasonable and calm, thus hurting others without reaching a well-considered solution. When a leader is capable of self-regulating his or her emotions, he or she is able to create a trusting and fair environment which allows the team’s creativity to flourish, thereby improves productivity. In the movie, Harry’s emotional outbursts had not led to good results, especially his personal conflict with fellow crew member A.J. Frost, who was dating his daughter. For example, in the simulation exercise where they attempted to set up a machine underwater, A.J. insists on forcing a task that ultimately result in a failure of their simulation of drilling.
Harry then pulled A.J. to scold about how his actions can bring danger to their mission and he should stop acting like a child. It can been seen that A.J. does not agree with Harry’s opinion. Should Harry tried to approach A.J. differently, maybe calmly assesses the situation and points out A.J.’s mistakes, A.J. might listen to what Harry had to say, but being unable to control his own temper, along with his bias towards A.J., Harry scolded at A.J. and the team ends up not moving forward. Overall Harry does not have great self-regulation. As a result some members may feel unfairness or mistrust from the leader.
Last inner emotional intelligence is motivation. Motivation is an important trait of effective leaders. It is a “passion to work for reasons that go beyond money or status” (Goleman 1998). By giving the team motivation to achieve in their own desires rather than external factors, they will perform better. In Harry’s first team meeting he satisfied the member’s extrinsic motivation by getting the rewards each individual wants. After satisfying their external needs, he suggested to give his team an off day the day before the mission. Taking that day of rest, whether it was going out to party, meeting with family for what may be the last time, or proposed to his loved one, many of the members becomes motivated. Like Chick found himself doing something he’s proud of first time in his life, or A.J. saw himself as a hero who fights over obstacles and get the girl in the end. With Harry satisfies everyone’s extrinsic motivation and giving them time to do some mental preparedness, he allowed the rest of the members to look at this mission as a challenge and find their own intrinsic motivation.
After analyzing Harry’s emotional intelligence towards himself, his emotional intelligence is now assessed. There are two components identified by Goleman that an effective leader needs to have to success: empathy and social skills. Empathy is the “skill in treating people according to their emotional reactions” (Goleman, 1998). A leader who is empathic towards his team allows strong unity and is able to retain talents. Harry is a person with strong opinions and high expectation. If one of his team members makes a mistake he will scold at them. For example Harry constant reminder of A.J. to “don’t screw things up” in the whole movie shows his lack of care of his team’s emotions. He does not show empathy towards his team.
Lastly there is social skills. Social skill is about “moving people in the direction you desire” (Goleman, 1998), leaders with strong social skills can better motivate others. In the movie, Harry appears not to be very sociable with his arrogant attitude. Because of his expert power over NASA in the knowledge of drilling, he was able to persuade others to follow his direction. However at important time he showed strong social skills. For example, when he demanded NASA to give his team a day off, he convinced them by finding common grounds between his team and NASA officers. He tried to show that his team is no different than their people and thus led the situation to his side. Another example is when Harry has to persuade Colonel Willie Sharp to disarm the bomb. Harry was able to establish trust with the colonel, which ultimately convinced Willie that it was worth the risk to disobey orders. Therefore it can be argued that Harry possesses social skills to stir others to follow his direction, but he does not use it often.
In general, Harry Stamper does not have all the emotional intelligence components Goleman speaks of. He may be self-aware of his strengths and strongly motivated, but he lacks the ability to motivate his team due to his lack of empathy towards others and his lack of self-regulatory. His emotions control his actions in many occasions. However, when he is calm he is extremely good at what he does. For this reason the team is able to complete its mission. In order for this team to get better Harry should learn to control his anger so that young ambitious individuals like A.J. will follow their leader more often and better accomplish their goals.
Stamper’s team may sound distinctly dysfunctional if each member of the team is assessed individually. Nevertheless, all of the members have a clear and common goal, with intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, with a right amount of diversity, a well defined culture, along with a well respected leader, this team is able to accomplish its task and succeed. They are a great example of no matter if a team is constructed with extremely talented people or extremely unstable individuals, by making a great workplace, anyone can flourish.