Sample Report On Apollo 13



Leadership refers to the inherent ability to make sound and viable decisions aimed at inspiring individual (s) to improve level of performance (Northouse, 2009). Northouse, (2009) further describes leadership as procedure through which people are influenced to attain certain set organizational aims and purposes. Effective leadership will establish feasible ways of achieving strategic objectives and make important decisions in challenging circumstances (Northouse, 2009). Similarly, a leader is an influential individual within an organization or country who is able to lead people to achieve greater goals through actual efforts whereas a manager governs organizations. This study, reports on leadership and management styles as revealed in the film, “Apollo 13”. Produced by Brian Grazer and directed by Ron Howard, this 1995 film is based on a true story and highly depicts leadership significance and principles as ingredients for team building, experienced after the infamous statement; “Houston, we have a problem” is clearly pronounced from the spaceship (21:00, Apollo 13). Ken Mattingly stands out as an exceptional leader in this film as he leads astronauts like Jack in finding a solution since ‘failure was never an option for him’. The Houston mission control led by Ken Mattingly, Marilyn Lovell and Gene Kranz race against time to save the team when the oxygen tank exploded while they were in space (27:00, Apollo 13) threatening their lives as they lost oxygen and power and became more exposed to high quantity of carbon dioxide. Due to escalating difficulties such as emotional breakdowns, the crew had to work together to overcome unexpected mishaps for survival.

Leader versus Manager

There is a difference between a leader and a manager (Winston, Creamer, & Miller, 2013). A leader is a person who can influence people, an organization, or country to realize greater ambitions. A leader likewise develops a reality from a dream. Leaders are innovative, original, inspire trusts, challenges status quo and does the right thing at all circumstances (Yukl, 2012: Doh, 2003). A manager is a person within an organization with a stable position who makes decisions, administers, and maintains systems. A manager maintains an organization, centers on the structure and the systems, depends on controls, imitates previous actions and decisions, and does things correctly.

Management and leadership are correlated as absence of effective management leads to depreciation of the decisions made by the leaders (Fairholm, 2009). Absence of effective leadership similarly restrains present activities and directions, limits optimization of performance and adaptation to achieve strategic goals. According to Yulk (2012), “managerial leadership takes place within organizations.” Leadership and management similarly have different characters. Leadership encompasses strategic, and people oriented focus, long term and high level perspective, innovative, inventive and establishes principles. Management characteristics on the other hand involve tactical and organizational focus, coordination of activities, formulation of policies, solving of logistical problems and administration and control of risks. Gene is an outstanding manager as he ensures that the team meets the main goal of saving the crew. According to Gene in Apollo 13, “We’ve never lost an American in space, we’re sure as hell not gonna lose one on my watch!” (Howard, 58:00).

Traditional versus Modern Approaches of leadership

When comparing traditional against modern leadership styles, several theories and styles are highlighted. Hersey-Blanchard theory is a traditional representation underscored in the film. This theory asserts that every person has leadership traits (Hersey & Blanchard, 1977). The theory highlights delegation, selling, participation, and telling as major styles as these approaches establish personal confidence and maturity of a team. From this theory, telling style is seen in Ken when he defines his plan to fellow astronauts. As a leader, he had realized that the duration taken in space with inadequate rest had increased levels of stress, reduced their confidence, and had strained the team to the point that they were incapable of completing the given tasks. After Ken realizes this challenge, he takes Jack through all the possible approaches to correct the problem. Ken wastes no time in finding a competent member but instills the inexperienced Jack with the confidence to pull through. He puts aside his personal ambitions and equips the amateurish Jack to lead the crew. This action saves on time and enables the team to successfully land safely. This theory is practical in this case as the team was able to overcome the challenge and play their role. Through delegation and participation, maturity is realized as the crew faced the physical and mental conditions necessary to overcome a fatal menace.

Organizational Leadership versus Transformational leadership

Organizational leadership is perceived as a traditional approach since transformational leadership greatly complements it and servant-leadership is greatly depicted within the approach. Organizational leadership is also highly depicted within a group, which is highly structured in terms of division of labor, policies, and procedures (Failholm, 2009). Organizational leadership enables the members focus on their objective. This can be experienced in the film whereby from the onset, the crew focused on their journey to the moon. Each member had a role to perform and a leadership structure governed by Lovell. Despite the failure of the main goal failing, the team maintained its focus and strategy to ensure that it returned home safely. In Howard (122:00), Lovell kept encouraging the crew, “… Try to figure out how to stay alive.” Through organization, the team was able to face the danger and make tough decisions. To accomplish a goal, it was essential for the team members to trust each other and adopt recommendations developed by every player. Organizational approach demands free communication irrespective of the ranks in leadership. However, every member in the crew had to listen to the main leader, Gene, as he spoke. In Howard (48), Gene encouraged to team to assist the crew land safely by  suggesting that “Come on, I want whatever you guys got on the power-up procedures. We’ve got to get something up to these guys”. An essence of team environment as an element of professionalism portrayed. Team environment demands interpersonal rapport, as every member was concerned with each other’s welfare. This is depicted when the flight surgeon suggested the need for rest of the crewmembers for the sake of their health and sounds decision-making (102:00, Apollo 13). The crew thus removed superfluous and low-priority diversions, which were an effective strategy in minimizing stress.

Organizational leadership, just like transformational leadership calls for a servant-leadership trait. Such a leader focuses on people’s concern instead of personal ambitions (Bolman, & Deal, 2008). The main goal is not the result but the approach to achieve the result, which is through handling other people’s needs. A servant leader offers direction to subjects, empowers, and develops a trustworthy culture to achieve the set goals. Servant leadership has remained popular at the organization level, as it is people-oriented just as transformational leadership style. Elements essential in this form are trust, delegation, influence, integrity, and respect. Skills appreciated in this form include listening, admiration, mentoring, and identification. This style demands more of leadership sacrifice, as gain is a secondary priority to the leader. Trust and influence are derived from the subjects as they acquire more freedom. The major variation between servant and transformational approach is that the focus of the leaders on the former is on the subjects whereas the latter centers on the organizational goals. However, the subjects of the former are able to achieve organizational objectives ahead of the transformational leaders’ subjects as their leader prioritizes on them.

In transformational approach, integrity, vision, and influence are necessary elements (Bolman, & Deal, 2008). Leaders are able to gain trust and influence the subjects, and thus competent to meet the organizational goals, which in this case are the organizational interests. Charisma in leaders has been realized to enable them exercise power and charm in their subjects. Hence, they become effective by exciting and motivating their followers. In both styles, risks are involved as leaders may fall prey to putrefaction and wangle. This is attributed to the fact that the leader eventually acquires sufficient authority on the subjects, which can be negatively applied. Followers can often become too reliant for personal dependency.

In the film, Jim Lovell portrays this feature when faced with diverse leadership difficulties. In spite of his sickness, he reported to his duties to ensure safe landing of the team. Lovell had to make difficult decisions when Jack had to replace Ken and reinstate the confidence of the team for the mission to progress. By applying organizational approach, re-organization of the crew did not affect the performance of the mission, as the entire mission back home became a success. Jim’s leadership style is articulated as action logic as it is goal-oriented. His role developed positive work environment as he met personal and strategic goals of the project. Through his achieving spirit, Jim managed to unite the team against the pressure.

Transactional versus Transformational leadership

As part of the traditional leadership approach, transactional leadership demands that the leader offer sacrifices for services from the subjects. Most relationships in a team have been transactional for the team’s happiness whereas transformational leadership have often complimented and substituted transactional leadership (Bolman, & Deal, 2008). This has frequently been the best form of leadership. Previously when the transactional leadership had been applied, the subjects become motivated to meet the goals while in transformational approach, the leader had to influence the subjects in meeting the organizational goals. Transactional leadership embraces Laissez faire leadership trait, which allows the subjects to do, as they desire. Management by exception trait comes into action when the leader intervenes in issues, which have become uncontrollable. The leader utilizes his power for corrective measures if necessary. Transformational leadership embraces emotional approach as the leader is emotionally given charge to control the followers. Decisions are thus made based on the emotion of the head instead of the situation and urgency. This approach has often been assumed rational while the leader has to emotionally influence the subjects.

Charismatic leadership

Advanced by the renowned sociologist Max Weber, charismatic leadership theory emphasizes on a leader having exceptional character and highly devoted on the achievement of set objectives. Under this type of leadership, developing loyalty and commitment, and encouraging devotion and heroism among the personnel is crucial (Northouse, 2009). From the film, Jim Lovell is also portrayed as a charismatic leader given his intrinsic ability to gather subjects through his charming personality rather than through coercion (Northouse, 2009). Notably, this form of leadership style heavily relies on the ability of a leader to effectively persuade and convinced subjects to subscribe to certain school of thought.


Leadership and Management Styles

Based on the technical, interpersonal, and conceptual technique, the characters portray behaviors essential in overcoming their difficulty. First, these characters are chosen based on their technical dexterity, as they were able to conceptually offer abstract ideas on the task. Through their varied thoughts, they manage to establish solutions. They had strong interpersonal skills, which enabled them to work as a team and assist each other perceives the visions and the goal. Free communication influenced their abstract thoughts through the assistance of Ken. Ken comes out as a great team- management style leader as he is concerned with the results. Through active participation, determination, honesty, and clear priorities, he resolved issues.

Generally, the leader-member relationship was good as the leader got along well with the subjects, which made him earn their respect. The task structure was besides high as the requirements for the completion of the task successfully were clear and limited solutions were available. The head generally assumed power as he was in control and made significant decisions. Hence, he is considered as an appropriate leader as he executed his role aptly. Respect and task management is depicted in as the team portrayed trust to their leader all through as he directed them.

The 2009 Core leadership skills theory is evidenced in the film (Derue, Nahrgang, Wellman & Humphrey, 2011). The main features in this theory are vision and problem solving, which have been demonstrated in Ken and Lovell as they exhibited strategic planning skills. Prior to his sickness, Lovell practiced navigation skills as he prepared for the launch to indemnify excellence. Ken has a clear vision, articulates his plan, and engages his teammates in acquiring a solution.

External factors affecting leadership

Factors affecting the effectiveness of leadership are motivation, communication, and teamwork, which have been applied in the film. The McGregor’s theory X and Y come into play in the leadership of the crew. This theory underscores the human nature in leadership as a feature for effective leadership during trials. It further compares motivation from leaders in organizational communication, behavior, and development (Sahin, 2012). From this theory, Ken’s character is highlighted as he kept encouraging the team yet he did not control them. By applying motivational talk and effective communication, Ken acquired a way out as the team enjoyed their roles. Through theory Y, the commitment and the motivation of the team is depicted (Townsend, & Bennis, 2007).

From the situational approach to leadership, the team proved to be highly skilled and committed. Due to leaders’ commitment, they were able to overcome social and emotional difficulty. They did not appreciate too much direction and rather felt distrust from the leader wherever they were offered much guidance. From the situational approach, Gene depicted both delegating and directing styles. Since he was result-oriented, he directed and supported the team by coming up with a re-entry plan.

Personal Evaluation as a leader

I have held different leadership positions in the company, which I am working with. I am in charge of information technology project that seeks to ensure that every office is installed with an updated version of the broadband connection, which is an involving position. As a leader, I am expected to exhibit diverse competencies especially in the face of challenges. I am expected to depict self management by learning and controlling work attitudes, self insight and stress management. It is essential that I lead in managing problems and understanding myself to play this significant role. A leader should be a hard worker, composed and efficient; features, I have deeply appreciated from Ken in the film. He depicted these features by his strong composure and persistence in his role. He is additionally capable of managing his personal stress and take on the difficulty to solve a problem effectively.

For effective leadership, leaders should be influential and great communicators (Yuki, 2012). Personal experience has made been realize that even though leaders can lead the subjects in the shadows, they ought to shine with vigor and willpower. From the film, Ken had a positive association with Jack despite Jack assuming his role in the spaceship. As a competent leader, Ken led Jack on a systematic approach and complimented him wherever necessary. This enabled them have to excellent relationship and overcome problems. Not only are Ken’s actions effective in managing the task, but also his role is significant as a leader of the crew. This is portrayed by his actions in improving performance through strategic task management. He retained the functional performance by offering Jack a hand as the head of the crew. Task management skills are additionally experienced through Ken when he was dealing with information and resources. He understood the materials within Apollo 13 such that when he was given a wrong spotlight, he refused to utilize it, as he understood the applicable spotlight. This trait is highly significant in all leadership structures.

Another significant trait in a leader is innovation. Innovativeness has been essential in my position in this project, as it is highly demanding in terms of creativity. This has been applicable in the movement of information to all the required sites. From experience, innovation demands creativity and enterprising for challenging periods. Effective leaders should be proficient in identifying, accessing, and obtaining solutions to problems. Prior knowledge and familiarity of the command component in recognizing applicable techniques are indispensable. In difficulties, leaders are expected to portray their technological shrewdness. Ethical responsibility is among the features of a leader because decisions are made for the common good. Social responsibility within an organization demands trustworthiness, integrity, and citizenship. Civic responsibility binds a leader to the institution and the team, while ethical processes commands perseverance in overcoming a difficulty. Through honest communication, leaders prove their integrity and thus the subjects are able to trust them in the decisions they make.


From the film, leaders are more significant than managers because of their influence and roles played. Managers are indispensable as they administer and maintain systems. Diverse leadership and management styles have been highlighted in the film like situational and transformational leadership. This film was produced by Brian Grazer and directed by Ron Howard in 1995. As a true story, the film highly depicts leadership significance and principles as elements in a team.  From the film, Ken Mattingly stands are highlighted as an outstanding leader. He leads other astronauts such as Jack to land safely. According to Ken, ‘failure has never been an option’. Together with Jim Lovell, the crew is able to overcome increasing difficulties and work together to overcome the unexpected mishaps for survival. Numerous traditional theories are highlighted in this film. Among the theories, include Hersey-Blanchard theory, which asserts that every person has leadership traits. Additional traditional models include transactional and organizational approaches. Transactional theory demands that the leader offer sacrifices for services from the subjects whereas Organizational leadership is perceived as a traditional approach since transformational leadership greatly complements it and that servant-leadership is greatly depicted within the approach. From various leadership positions I have assumed, I have come to appreciate that a leader is able to effectively lead others by becoming influential and great communicator. I have noted that in as much as some leaders can direct the subjects in the shadows, they are expected to shine with vigor and willpower. I have come to appreciate innovativeness as an essential tool as it is highly demanding in terms of creativity. Therefore, effective leaders should possess skills and experience to identify access and obtain solutions through becoming acquainted with prior knowledge and familiarity of command.


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