Seniority plays an indispensable role in the military. Rank is highly important because their efficiency of getting things done depends on fast commands corresponding fast implementation. That is why leadership here is very crucial. One does not easily get promoted or get his own ship to command. Despite the fact that everyone already looks up to you and no matter how worked yourself off, these simply aren’t enough. 1 Like what The Captain said to Lt. Tyler, one has to “be able to make hard decisions based on imperative information asking men to carry out orders that result to their deaths. ”
Because the true test of being a soldier-leader is not only willingness to lay his own life on the line for his men, not only his bravery, but his strength to have to lay someone else’s life for the crew, for the mission and then, at the end of the day, having to pay for its consequences. In U-571 (2000), maybe the character that noticeably best depicted being an astounding leader and, at the same time a follower, is The Chief.
Being somewhat a middleman between the new Captain and the crew, during their battle with the Nazis, Chief, in his years in combat, was able to successfully be a good leader and follower whenever the times demanded it of him. Some of the crewmen might have thought that, when The Captain died when the S33 was blown up, The Chief was the one that should take command instead of the much younger Lt. Tyler. Once, a crew member kept saying “…this is crazy, this is crazy… he’s gonna get us killed…
” to the idea that Lt. Tyler didn’t want to use the Nazi’s Enigma to radio for help. The Chief said, “Navy said it’s more important than you, him, me—fine. We’re gonna die trying. That ain’t crazy. That’s our job. ” The stubborn crewman responds with “what I don’t seem to understand Chief, is how come you’re not in-charge.
1. Military Rank. . Retrieved July 29, 2008 from http://www. militaryspot. com/military-rank. htm 1
“Lt. Tyler is your commanding officer and you will respect that man as such. ” In this particular scene, The Chief was a leader in a sense that he recognizes when a crewman needs some straightening up and, also he is a very good follower in a sense that he defended the superior being insulted at the back. At these moments, he displayed glory when he was effortlessly able to go over the praises, and get down to serious business.
His principles are unwavering, unconditional. Attitude such as these give a command consistency and action in highly unfavorable situations such as battlefields. Contrary to conventional point of view, being a follower and a leader seems to be much more of a role played in an interrelated way than a role as played in completely opposite ways. Yes, one cannot be a leader without being a follower and following cannot be without leading. To be able to fully understand one, one has to understand the other, or both will not stand.
One cannot exist without the other; they complete each other. In the context of this film, or life in general for that matter, it is impossible to discuss leadership without discussing followership, and vice versa.
2 This concept can be seen in the persona of the Chief. The concept of leadership and followership is healthily embedded in The Chief’s heart and mind, and through this, he is able to contribute significantly to the welfare of the crew and the accomplishment of the mission. If too many soldiers were to lack this, it will “kill a crew.
” Doubt is a given when there are high risks involved. Playing with the lives of men is never easy. There are a lot of gray areas, areas where a soldier is confronted with dilemmas. The Chief experienced this at 160 meters below water surface.
2. Lt Col Sharon M. Latour and Lt Col Vicki J. Rast, “Dynamic Followership,” (2004) Retrieved July 29, 2008 from http://www. govleaders. org/dynamic_followership. htm.
Tyler made a mistake in his calculations or estimations, they all could’ve drowned when the submarine barely held itself together under the pressure of 200 meters underwater. But they were lucky. What seemed to be wrong turned out to be right. In reality, perhaps it is much harder to choose. A young enlisted officer also came to this situation, where his ability to follow was thinning. Lt. Tyler had to order him to swim under the flooded pipes and tighten those that need tightening so that a torpedo can be launched.
Obeying might kill him and not obeying might kill the crew. This time though, it wasn’t as happy an ending as The Chief’s was when he followed orders. The kid drowned. They were able to beat the enemy but they sacrificed a life. There are no clear lines as to which extents will a soldier follow or not. There are no set qualifications as to who must go first. Maybe there never will. But one thing is clear, leading or following, the sake of the crew as a whole must be put first before an individual’s, the country’s first before the self.
- Lt Col Sharon M. Latour and Lt Col Vicki J. Rast, “Dynamic Followership,” (2004) Retrieved July 29, 2008 from http://www. govleaders. org/dynamic_followership. htm.
- Military Rank. . Retrieved July 29, 2008 from http://www. militaryspot. com/military-rank. htm
- Lt Col Latour, Sharon M. and Lt Col Rast, Vicki J. Dynamic Followership. Retrieved July 29, 2008 from http://www. govleaders. org/dynamic_followership. htm, 2004.
- Military Rank. Retrieved July 29, 2008 from http://www. militaryspot. com/military-rank. htm, 2004.