Updated: Oct 24, 2019
Leadership is the skill to motivate people to achieve a common goal. A person’s leadership is developed over time with experience and behavior modification. The person should undergo a specific lifestyle to develop good leadership skills. The aim of this project is to analyses the leadership of Gene Wilder who was a renowned actor, director, and writer. This paper will assess the leadership style of Gene Wilder in society and his contribution to the community as a leader. The primary framework of the paper will be based on the five core practices common to all the people who shared their peak leadership period in their life. It was mentioned in the book, the leadership challenge, written by Jim Kouzes and Barry Posner in the year of 1987. The book was written after a long research and experiments by the authors of the book. The book was a best seller and had received many awards for its brilliance (Kouzes & Posner, 2017).The five common core practices among all the leaders analyzed are
1. They model the way
2. Inspire a shared goal
3. Challenge the process
4. Enable others to act
5. They encourage the heart
Five Core Practices
These five practices for achieving exemplary leadership skills are significant after three decades of the birth of these concepts. It has helped individual, team, and organizations to achieve success in their fields. It demonstrated evidence-based success among organization and communities who were willing to take the initiative to learn. The abstract concept of leadership was explained in easy to grasp practices and behaviors that helped people to build their leadership skills. The analyses and studies consistently confirmed the effectiveness on the five practices. These five practices can be positively correlated with the effectiveness of the leaders, the level of commitment, satisfaction and engagement with the use of assessment tools (Kouzes & Posner, 2017).
· Model the way
· Inspire a shared view
· Challenge the process
· Enable others to act
· Encourage the heart
Gene Wider as a Leader
Gene Wilder was a renowned actor, director, businessman and writer of his time in Hollywood. His philanthropic activities helped many people around the world. The great performances of the actor were not limited to the stage. He was a champion for cancer patients and survivors. The motivation for the actor to become an activist for the cause was prompted by the tragedy that happened to his wife, Gilda Radner. His wife was afflicted with ovarian cancer during the peak of her acting career. The incident inspired Gene Wilder to start an organization to support the actor. He started Gilda’s Club with the help of Joanna Bull, the psychotherapist of Gilda Radner; broadcaster Joel Siegel; and Mandy Patinkin, a fellow actor and friend of Gene Wilder.
Analysis of his Leadership
Model the Way
Paving the way for the people (peers, colleagues, and customers) is very crucial for a leader. Leaders have developed a concept of principles in accordance with the followers. These principles should be reflected in the ways in which the constituents are treated in the community and design goals that should be pursued.
The difference Gene Wilder tried to make in the lives of suffering people will always be remembered by people around the world. The motivation prompted from the tragic story of his wife enabled him to be one of the biggest activists in the United States of America. From the loss, he derived inspiration to serve the suffering and make their lives bearable in the world. Gene Wilder was successful in paving the way for others to follow him. He started one of the biggest focus groups in the world. His passion for the foundation, Gilda’s Club, helped to inspire other people to follow his lead (Presant, 2016).
There was a tremendous improvement in the foundation memberships and the reach of the foundation. Gilda’s legacy has been growing continuously in the world. The foundation merged with the Wellness Community, and the foundation’s membership reached 4200. With Gene Wilder’s efforts, the organization became the largest patient support group in the country. Gene Wilder, with the founding of Gilda’s Club, modeled the way for others to join and follow. He demonstrated the value of a loving relationship, such as that of husband and wife. He modeled the path of charity for the next coming generations of America so that they can…. Through his noble efforts, he paved a path to fight evil and dangerous diseases like cancer to save humanity while creating social awareness regarding health of people suffering from such diseases. He modeled a path for all the celebrities and youth to invest their time in the noble cause.
Inspire a shared View
A leader should have a passion for making a big difference in society. A leader must be visionary with a bright future. The passion of the leader creates magnetism in the group to achieve the collective goal. Failures and mistakes encountered are used by the leaders as learning opportunities. The vision and effort put by the leader to execute the vision will inspire the peers to follow the person. The ability of the person to attract people and inspire them to achieve a collective goal is an important leadership skill.
Blazing Saddles, directed by Gene Wilder, is an amazing story that tells about addiction and abuse of drugs in the film. Gene Wilder was successful in inspiring people to see a shared vision against the drugs in the film. He used his directorial skills for mass communication to the audience. The message of the director was well received as Blazing Saddles is one of the most influential movies against drugs in the history of Hollywood movies (IMDB, 2019). The vision and effort put forth by a leader to execute a vision will inspire the peers to follow the organization. The ability of a leader to attract people and inspire them to achieve a collective goal is an important leadership skill. This can be seen in the reflection of Blazing Saddles as Gene Wilder successfully aligned the audience with his vision to fight against drugs. The makers of the film found it difficult to release the movie. The level of censorship was high, and the vision of the director was to be satirical to the whole political landscape at the time. The studio decided to flush the movie even before it got released but efforts made by the actors, directors and studio helped in the release of the movie. The movie had an impact on the political landscape of the time but never took a step behind (Crump, 2016).
Gene Wilder inspired a shared view that any misdoing and evil prevalent in the society must be brought out through individual as well as collective courage. Anyone who wants to fight social and political evil can take example of Gene Wilder to use their talents and career skills to collectively raise their issues and inspire a shared view. By releasing the movie against substance abuse and its roots, Gene Wilder inspired a shared public opinion to raise awareness that helped the global fight against drugs
Challenge the process
Leaders should have the courage to experiment with innovative ideas to advance the performance of the organization. The full focus of the leader should be on the consistent development of the organization and reaping the benefits of the growth of the organization for the benefit of society. They search for opportunities and create opportunities and grasp the opportunity instantly. A person aspiring to be a leader should understand the importance of an opportunity. Because a person reaches the leadership position of the organization through sheer utilization of opportunities (Kouzes & Posner, 2017).
As a leader, Gene Wilder challenged the whole process and system by releasing films and documentaries on sensitive topics such as drug and substance abuse. He and his team faced a lot of threats and harassment as he made political films against crime mafias but his strength, will and courage never waned. He achieved a lot of success in releasing such films. Thus his actions inspired generations to recognize that to become a true leader and fight any social misdeed or cause, they will have to challenge the existing process as well as the system. People will have to demonstrate behaviors similar to Gene Wilder’s to challenge the process in order to bring a subtle change.
As another example of how Gene Wilder challenged the process, the tremendous loss of his wife because of ovarian cancer motivated the actor to work for helpless people. He testified before Congress on the need for funding cancer research in the United States. He promoted funding for the development of diagnostic tests to detect cancers (Presant, 2016). He recognized the problems in the diagnoses and the carelessness of the doctors. He pointed out that even with a history of ovarian cancer in Gilda Radner’s family, the doctors failed to identify symptoms in his wife. He challenged the process used by the doctors to detect ovarian cancers at the time —mistakes made by the doctors that had an impact on other people’s life. The actor did so by influencing government policies and persuaded the government to allocate funds for the development of advanced treatment methods for the development of a cure and diagnostic procedures (Schaffer, 2016).
Enable others to Act.
Leaders should understand each and every peer under his or her care. An important aspect of a leader is the ability to bring out leadership qualities in others. Empowering others to and supporting them to achieve their goal for the collective benefit of the institution. They engage with other peers to understand their strengths and weakness.
With the help of Stanford University of Medicine and Cambridge University, the actor developed the Gilda Radner Ovarian Cancer Detection Program. The program has helped to provide support, treatment and care for many patients. Gene Wilder saw the pain his wife endured and knew that special care and psychological support should be rendered to patients who suffer from ovarian cancer. He supported the medical center to conduct genetic testing to detect ovarian cancer and analyze various symptoms of the disease. His passion drove him to gain knowledge of the disease. He laid the path and supported various agencies in their effort to find a cure for the disease (Schaffer, 2016).
Leaders should understand each and every peer under his care. An important aspect of a leader is the ability to bring out leadership qualities in others. Manufacturing leaders to lead important aspects of departments, portfolios, or crucial tasks necessary for the development of the institution. They build team spirit among a group of people. The same act has been done by Gene Wilder through his activism. He empowered others to act and challenge the system. He encouraged others to understand their importance in the lives of others. He showed others how small deeds could make a big change in society.
Encourage the Heart
Encouraging peers to accomplish extraordinary tasks in the organization is a critical responsibility of the leader. Recognition of an individual person's work and contribution to the institution is important. It helps to increase the motivation of the colleagues to accomplish quality works and contribution to the collective goal of the organization. Inspiring an individual to be his own hero and motivating them to push their boundaries will have a positive impact on the peer and to the organization.
The actor served his time in the US Army. He worked as a paramedic in the Army and gave psychiatric assistance to the Army officers. After his discharge, Gene Wilder went back to his acting career. He was a strong opponent of the Vietnam War and Iraqi invasion. He spoke out against them before the public. He garnered supporters for his views and against government policies. He spoke about the mistakes of the government of his country and helped people to differentiate between right and wrong.
Researchers, medical centers and charitable organizations were ready to work with him to advance his cause. Foundations and organizations similar to Gilda’s Club proliferated around the world. People around were inspired to work with him to achieve a shared goal (Gildas Club Toronto, 2019). Through the rich experience he gained throughout his life, Gene Wilder showcased that a leader must learn the ability of encouraging the heart of the public. Through his social movement against cancer or through his movies, he touched and changed the hearts of the public, especially the American youth. He converted his motivations into mass movements engaging, all sections of society. Through his political gathering and speeches, he again proved that a true leader must possess the art of encouraging the heart. Through his noble pursuits and deeds, he showed the world the qualities of a true leader. Gene Wilder proved that encouraging the hearts and touching the conscience is a true art of any world class leader and essential for collaborating movement engaging the masses.
As a leader, Gene Wilder stood out in society. He could have contributed financially to the cause to get his name published in newspapers and articles. The sheer determination and honesty in his endeavors helped the actor to succeed in his work. The aspiration to provide support to others, that is, not only to the patients but also to their family and care providers, shows the actor’s emotional involvement. The leadership qualities displayed by the actor in the endeavor to start the foundation and expand the scope of his organization was the peak of his leadership in his life. The five core practices necessary to develop such leadership skills are visible throughout the actions of Gene Wilder. It can be said that Gene Wilder was a true leader to the core of his heart who was able to touch the heart of others.
Gilda’s Club Greater Toronto. (2019). Retrieved from gildasclubtoronto: https://gildasclubtoronto.org/who-we-are/
Bast Jr, R. C. (2011). Molecular approaches to personalizing management of ovarian cancer. Annals of Oncology.
Crump, A. (2016, November 29). The Surreal, Singular Relevance of Blazing Saddles in 2016. pastemagazine. Retrieved from https://www.pastemagazine.com/articles/2016/11/the-surreal-singular-relevance-of-blazing-saddles.html
IMDB. (2019). Blazing Saddles. Retrieved from imdb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0071230/
Kouzes, J. M., & Posner, B. Z. (2017). The leadership challenge. John Wiley & Sons.
Schaffer, J. (2016, September). Gene Wilder’s Legacy Lives On in his Philanthropy, Advocacy, and a Network of Nonprofit Support Groups. Nonprofit quarterly.