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Teaching Leadership With 10,000 Words

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2004 Annual Conference


Salt Lake City, Utah

Publication Date

June 20, 2004

Start Date

June 20, 2004

End Date

June 23, 2004



Conference Session

Leadership in the Curriculum

Page Count


Page Numbers

9.1187.1 - 9.1187.5



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Paper Authors

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David Ward

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Robert Martinazzi

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3615

TEACHING LEADERSHIP WITH 10,000 WORDS Robert Martinazzi, David Ward University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown

Abstract An old adage states “Pictures are worth a thousand words.” An appropriate deduction from this phase can be “Movies are then worth ten thousand words.” With this basic premise, a unique component to an Engineering Leadership class involves the students viewing three films, namely, “Braveheart,”1 “The Patriot,” 2 and “Gladiator.” 3 Each film contains a wealth of verbal and visual leadership examples which inspire men to willingly sacrifice their lives for a “vision” greater than themselves. Implicit in this observation is the fact that “vision” is a key leadership trait necessary for a leader. Since leadership is influence,4 the student watches a dramatically unfolding portrayal of how a leader effectively influences others. Leadership skills, attitudes, and traits abound in the movies and students are required to identify and illustrate these skills, attitudes, and traits with specific examples.

Students select which movie they want to watch and work in teams of three to assess the film. The three major areas of assessment include themes, context, and motifs of the film. The theme requires students to search for the deeper meaning of the film in addition to questioning what it was all about. The context interpretation asks students to connect and compare the film to its historical setting and to present day situations. The motifs observation asks students to discuss how the various scenes were enacted to illustrate key points in the film. The student teams then prepare a paper on their selected movie. This paper details how the graphical portrayal of leadership in the film quickly engenders in the students a keen sense of skills, attitudes, and traits of an effective leader.

Introduction “The one quality that can be developed by studious reflection and practice is leadership.” – General Dwight Eisenhower

Current thoughts on leadership depict it as a skill based subject which can be learned by those interested in developing it in their personal and professional lives.4 The above quote from one of the world’s great leaders reinforces this premise. Various venues such as books, tapes, seminars, and retreats are available to help one enhance leadership abilities. Each offers unique ways of conveying leaderships skills to the individual interested in this material.

The gamut of learning ranges from passive (reading) to active (experiencing and sharing). In his book “Silent Messages” Dr. Albert Mehrabian5 concludes that effectively communicating with others requires individuals to thoroughly understand the elements of Proceedings of the 2004 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright  2004, American Society for Engineering Education

Ward, D., & Martinazzi, R. (2004, June), Teaching Leadership With 10,000 Words Paper presented at 2004 Annual Conference, Salt Lake City, Utah. 10.18260/1-2--13458

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2004 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015