How Does Truman Show Leadership

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In the film Truman (1995), directed by Frank Pierson, there are many examples of power relations, tactics of influence, and forms of leadership. The film depicts Harry Truman’s earnest yet unexpected rise to the appointment of president of the United States during World War 2 and the challenges he faced in this position of tremendous responsibility and authority. This paper will explore the concept of leadership through Pierson’s portrayal of Truman’s character development and will explore concepts of power and influence through his relationships to other characters and organizations. The development of Truman’s personal character and rise to presidency are an iconic example of McClelland’s (1975) concept of social power. Shriberg & Shriberg (2010) summarize the idea of social power as essentially a positive form of power built up from possessing integrity and a healthy idealism. Truman’s belief in America and its institutions are first shown when he declares that he is joining the military to participate in World War 1 despite the fact that he is not an ideal candidate and could avoid the draft if he chose to. In the military he secures a leadership position where he is shown to be comfortable giving and receiving orders, and being authoritative to his subordinates. After the war, and after a failed attempt at business, Truman runs for local office as a last resort career option. He takes his office position seriously, and is very stubborn when he discovers that political
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