Gladiator is a famous film produced in 2000 and revolves around leadership issues. In the film, selected persons in leadership positions exhibit wrong use of power and cruelty. One of the leaders in the film is Maximus, who is arguably one of the best leaders as he is adored by almost everyone around him. The effectiveness or success of leaders depends on their supervisory techniques. This essay examines the Gladiator film extensively with a focus on the supervisory techniques used by selected leaders in selected scenes.
Supervisory Techniques in The Gladiator Film
The term “supervisor” is common in day-to-day talks, especially in management or leadership contexts. A supervisor can be defined as an individual who acts as the overall overseer or work that is done by others. People often expect a supervisor to set an example and provide leadership to others. Another expectation is that a supervisor must be trustworthy, especially when working with his or her subordinates and this implies showing predictability when it comes to professional behavior and performance. In his duty of guiding and leading others, a supervisor must strive to ensure or rather enhance two-way communication with subordinates (Goodwin, 2008). An example of a supervisor in the Gladiator film is Maximus. Of course, the achievement of the mentioned objectives depends on the supervisory techniques used. Supervisory techniques in themselves are the management qualities or characteristics portrayed by an individual in a supervisory position either in an organization or society. These techniques vary from one person to another and are influenced by several factors including individual interests.
Gladiator is a renowned film produced in 2000 and has seen the key character earn several awards (Scott et al., 2000). In this film, there are several individuals in leadership positions who showcase several supervisory techniques. One of the supervisory techniques evident in the film is the availability technique, which is shown by one of the main characters, Maximus. It is evident that Maximus is a Roman general and leads his soldiers to war on several occasions. Maximus is available in most of the battles, and the availability serves as a motivation to the soldiers leading to victory on several occasions. The availability technique often makes a leader’s followers feel comfortable, secure, free, and in control. Maximus’s availability was one of the reasons why many including the emperor adored him. Transparency, which is the other common supervisory technique, is also used in the Gladiator film on several occasions. For instance, Emperor Marcus showcased transparency when he hinted at making Maximus the heir to his throne (Scott et al., 2000). In day-to-day life, other people do not like transparency and prefer to do away with those who prefer transparently doing things. Similarly, in the film, Emperor Marcus’s transparency was the cause of his death as he is killed by his son Commodus who is grieved by the news of Maximus becoming an heir at his expense (Stephens, 2011). After killing the father, Commodus becomes the emperor. Transparency as a supervisory technique is also evident when Maximus hints at killing Commodus with the aim or rising to the throne. Alongside his transparency, Maximus has the interests of the members of the kingdom at heart and wants to do away with Commodus’s poor leadership. A third supervisory technique used in the film is listening, which remains vital for any individual in a leadership or supervisory position in society (Stephens, 2011). In the film, Marcus showcases good listening skills when he keenly listens to Maximus give his opinions or ideas before leaving for the battlefield. Marcus’s listening skills contrast with those of his son Commodus who ascended the throne later. It is evident that Commodus lacks listening as a supervisory technique resulting in his downfall.
As discussed above, the three supervisory techniques used in the Gladiator film are availability, listening, and transparency. An effective supervisory technique in the film is availability, and this cannot be doubted. The fact that Maximus was available as a leader in most of the battles served as a motivation for his soldiers who fought tirelessly and with unity achieving victory in the long run. In society today, availability from the part of supervisors or leaders tends to be more effective that other techniques such as listening and transparency. When senior organizational leaders are available, the achievement of organizational goals is easened, and good relationship between leaders and subordinates is enhanced. In the film, the use of transparency as a supervisory technique was not effective on selected occasions. For instance, although Emperor Marcus showcased transparency when he revealed his intention of having Maximus as the heir to the throne, he was eventually killed by his son (Stephens, 2011). Here, it can be said that the objective of using transparency as a supervisory technique was not achieved.
There are several things in the film I would do differently as a supervisor. For instance, upon rising to the throne, Emperor Commodus showcases poor leadership. He shows brutality, lacks empathy, and is committed to enslaving common man (Scott et al., 2000). As a person in his position, I would focus more on being available and working closely with subordinates. The actions of Commodus are based on the opinions he gets from his staff. I would be physically available among my staff and work closely with them to learn more about their needs or demands.
It should be noted that supervisory techniques are affected by factors such as high-stress environments. In an organizational context, pressure from staff members is the key cause of stress for persons in leadership or supervisory positions. When a supervisor is under duress or faces endless pressure, bad decision-making or inappropriate supervisory techniques cannot be ruled out (Goodwin, 2008). The situation is different in a less stressful environment as the supervisor or leader has the opportunity to make appropriate decisions and use appropriate supervisory techniques.
From a personal perspective, listening remains the most desirable or preferable supervisory trait. Of course, listening is the stepping stone to successful supervision or leadership in the real-world context as it paves the way for good relationships between supervisors and subordinates. I can remember one point in life when as a departmental head in my organization, the fact that I listened to those who worked under me played a pivotal role in me succeeding in the position.
It has been argued that most supervisors who use a “textbook” technique fail in their day-to-day endeavors. Even though this technique is good, it may not apply to certain contexts or environments. For instance, in the film, Emperor Marcus shows a use of a “textbook” technique when he prefers to be transparent to his son on his plans of having Maximus as his heir (Stephens, 2011). Unfortunately, this sets the stage for his downfall as he is killed by the son. However, this technique could be successful in other environments or contexts.
Goodwin, C. (2008). “The Supervisor’s Role and Responsibility in The Modern Organization.” Retrieved September 20, 2017, from http://wps.prenhall.com/wps/media/objects/2471/2530411/11e/C03.pdf
Scott, R., Parkes, W., Black, S., Landau, D., & Franzoni, D. (2000). Gladiator: The Making of the Ridley Scott Epic. Newmarket Press. Retrieved September 20, 2017, from http://pepsic.bvsalud.org/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0100-34372014000100004
Stephens, W. O. (2011). Marcus Aurelius: a guide for the perplexed. A&C Black. Retrieved September 20, 2017, from https://books.google.co.ke/books?hl=en&lr=&id=qxT-TeS-JOIC&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=Stephens,+W.+(2012).+%22Appendix:+Marcus,+Maximus,+and+Stoicism+in+Gladiator+(2000)%22,+in+Marcus+Aurelius:+A+Guide+for+the+Perplexed.+London:+Continuum.&ots=XjRlv5DLG4&sig=ntbQj6Y1ROlWTIW2Px5f2JYJYt8&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false