Twelve Angry Men Essay
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Twelve Angry Men depicts different types of leadership, communication, and group dynamics. The film revolves around the jurisdiction of a homicide trial with a jury that almost unanimously votes the defendant guilty, with only one opposing voter. This man, Juror #8, presents his decision through ideas of reasonable doubt that spiral into a majority vote of not-guilty. So, how does a group of twelve men completely shift their point of view from guilty to not-guilty? The power of effective leadership and communication.
Juror #8 was able to effectively communicate with the men to think of other scenarios that prove the defendant not-guilty through democratic styled leadership. He did not necessarily think the defendant was not guilty. However, he was not positive the boy was guilty and did not want to make a decision without 100% confidence. Therefore, he communicated his view by encouraging the jury to examine the facts in a new light and opening a discussion amongst the jurors. The re-analyzation of the facts arose new questions about the verity of the facts, allowing some, and eventually all, of the jurors to question their original declaration of guilty.
Lack of leadership and communication from the majority are also factors in the change of decision. The group of 11 men did not have a solid leader to hold together their original verdict. In the beginning, juror #1 was the apparent leader of the group. He stated the jury procedures and inquired each man’s vote. When opposition from juror #8 arose, he attempted to get the group to dismiss the idea. Eventually, he loses interest in caring and steps back as the leader. A disinterest by other jurors was also seen when some were playing games.
It was also evident that some jurors only went with the majority based on hidden agendas such as wanting the trial to be over or personal opinions of people such as prejudices. In addition, Juror #3 is the prime opposer to the questions presented by juror #8. He is vocal about his confidence in his decision towards the defendant. However, his leadership style was of an autocratic nature, which worked to his disadvantage. People are more likely to follow a kind leader than someone who belittles and frightens. Therefore, Juror #8 had effective communication to win over the quiet jurors who were first too intimidated to question the majority.
He dominated the discussion and lead with powerful points that left the jurors thinking. He created an open discussion. This lead to jurors asking valid questions on the verity of the facts presented. Turning points came when a witness’ testimony was questioned due to their poor vision proved through glasses marks on her nose, the angel of the man’s wound from the stab, presenting a knife that was claimed to be one of a kind, and the actual time it wold take for the witness to see what happened after they heard the scream.
The film also shows how leadership thrives with the addition of followers. Without followers one cannot be declared a leader. If juror #8 stated and expressed reasons for his view and no others followed, the decision would have been in the majority’s favor and juror #8 would have just been a man with an opinion. Instead, he was able to first convince juror #9, which immediately gave his opinion credibility. Once juror #9 switched sides, it was evident that everyone else re-examined their opinion and started to formulate valid questions.
Juror #9 was able to break the hold of group think, allowing others to actually voice their thoughts. This especially pertains to the quiet jurors who were originally too intimidated to question the majority. These jurors were now actually able to think for themselves and were open to communicate juror #8’s points of reasonable doubt. Twelve Angry Men is also an interesting depiction of group dynamics. In a group, decision-making can be hindered due to majority process. When a majority is present, it is easy for others to join in.
This was displayed in the beginning of the film. There were a couple to quickly charge the defendant as guilty and others followed, although some appeared hesitant. They only made a decision once they saw the other opinions. This is a common problem in a group setting. It is too much effort to be the odd man out. Therefore, the quieter and more timid people conform to the majority for an easy solution. Juror #8 intelligently realized this group dynamic and intelligently focused his attention to the quiet members. He asked that another vote be taken by secret ballots.
This is an effective way of voting that allowed for better communication, allowing the quieter jurors to submit their vote in private. This proved effective when the vote switched from 11-1 to 10-2. This lead to an open discussion amongst many in the group, drawing valuable ideas and opinions that they might not have offered otherwise. Juror #8 created a setting for group discussion where everyone started to work together as a team to determine the verdict of the case. As a team, the jury unanimously shifted their vote to not-guilty; an excellent demonstration on the power of effective communication and leadership.