Andrea is fresh out of graduating from university in hopes of finding a job to help reach her dream of becoming a journalist in New York City. However she is sent to Miranda Priestly – the chief editor of Runway, a fashion magazine, for an interview as an assistant. She reluctantly gives it a shot in knowledge that a year of being an assistant for Miranda would open opportunities for her to become a journalist anywhere she pleased. Although Andrea lacked in experience and knowledge about the fashion industry, her credentials and smart thinking won her the position.
Andrea, also known as Andy finds it hard to fit in with the lifestyle of the fashion absorbed. Through the instigation of Miranda and the people around her, Andy decides that she needs to work harder to fit in, and consequently changes her appearance and attitude towards the job. After this we see Andrea being faced with many obstacles and almost impossible tasks given to her by her boss. She is near to quitting but accomplishes which motivates her to stay on. However her non-stop occupation puts stress on her private and social life. Andrea see’s that she is turning into a person she doesn’t want to be.
She then realizes the sacrifices aren’t worth the job she is in. Soon after a great reference from Miranda, Andy gets a job for a New York Newspaper, where she always longed to be as a journalist. I am writing this report based on the film: The Devil Wears Prada (2006), particularly observing the main character with evident traits of being a leader, named: Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep). Emily Charlton (Emily Blunt) is also mentioned in the report for her managerial traits, however the focus on Emily as a manager deteriorates after Andrea Sachs (Anne Hathaway) takes the lead.
Emily is not an obvious choice to be distinguished as a manager when watching the movie. But after watching closely for the second time, we see early on that in the absence of Miranda, Emily does take charge. Emily feels empowered, as she is namely the first assistant of the boss. As Andrea is a newbie, everything she learns is through Emily. Also Andrea’s sense of style reflects her lack of knowledge about the fashion industry. This then is seen as a weakness to Emily, subsequently changing the way she behaves towards her. An example in the film that shows this is when Emily says:
(Devil; 00:14:33) “I mean you get coffee (sneers) and you run errands. Yet I am in charge of her schedule, her appointments, and her expenses. And um, most importantly, I get to go with her to Paris for fashion week in the fall. ” Almost belittling Andrea. (Devil; 00:17:35) “I will deal with this and you will go to Calvin Klein. ” (Devil; 00:19:26) “I get 20 minutes for lunch, you get 15. When I come back, you can go. ” From this dialogue, as a viewer I picked up the tone of voice as being very domineering. Notice how Emily emboldens herself with the use of the word “I” various times when she gives orders.
Although this is only effective at the beginning as Andrea is still new to the job. Emily may be the manager for a while during the start, but her traits suggest that she is not the legitimate leader. “However, this distinction between managers as traditional and rational while true leaders are charismatic is clearly an idealization and a rather simplistic one at that. In reality, leaders do find that they have to attend to often mundane administrative tasks and managers do have to lead those who report to them if they are to get anything done. ” Ralph Stacey, (2012).
Miranda’s straight forward ordering proves to be a better leadership skill as it gets the job done without the need to show who’s in charge. The fact she doesn’t have to exercise her power in the same way as Emily shows how truly powerful of a leader she is. The calm subtle tone of her voice, and gentle yet effective body language and facial expressions are enough to make a person abide. Priestly shows an autocratic leadership style throughout. Simply defined as “A ruler who has absolute power. ” Although from time to time she immerses into other styles when put in a more informal situation.
For instance, Miranda became a Consultative leader by asking co-worker and Art director of the firm, Nigel, whether the dress wasn’t too similar to another designers and to choose which jacket would go with the outfit picked for the fashion run through. However we see Miranda being softer on Nigel throughout the film. This could be something to do with the position Nigel is in. He is already a man of knowledge and experience, and therefore should be treated differently to others. His experience means Miranda trusts him with more responsibilities.
To my surprise there are also hints of Laissez-faire. (Devil; 00:16:14) When Miranda asks Andrea on her first shift to buy 10 to 15 skirts from Calvin Klein, she doesn’t specify the type or design and leaves her to figure it out herself. This is a lot of responsibility given to someone who she knows has no experience in the fashion industry. Miranda is a manager that relies heavily on threat to gain her employees compliance. Therefore looking at Theory X and Y founded by McGregor, and comparing the difference, it is clear that she shows traits from Theory X.
These theories explain staff motivation within the workplace. Management that follows Theory X assumes that employees are lazy and dislike working hard. Therefore managers develop a system to tightly control workers and use their hierarchal status almost against them. We see this in the film various times by the attitude of Miranda. She quotes in the scene of picking out the tutu dress, and asking for accessories in particular a belt (Devil; 00:22:48) “Why is no one ready” in a tired disappointed tone. She generalizes it by saying no one, not talking to the woman by saying “why aren’t you ready?
” Another snide comment I picked up on was “details of your incompetence do not interest me. ” A line that we hear early on in the film said to Emily. This also shows how she always has to point out the worst in her staff. Its as if she has to have someone to blame. It wasn’t necessarily Emily’s fault in this instance, but the need of blaming someone is a compulsion of Miranda. A major disadvantage of having a manager with these traits is that it leaves the atmosphere of the workplace to be disciplinary and vindictive.
The five bases of power theory by French and Raven is a study outlining how different forms of power affect leadership and success. After all, leadership without of power is nothing. I wouldn’t describe Miranda’s power as coercive because people who work for her are not forced. They desire to work for her because of her reputation. There are some elements of reward power in the workplace because the job is rewarding in the sense of gaining benefits such as meeting designers and getting insight into new trends. People are likely to work harder knowing they will receive something from it.
If they work hard enough for Miranda, they could be introduced to valuable contacts. However this type of power can become weak once the employees feel the reward value has decreased. Legitimate power is power gained from a title or job position. This is obvious as to why some people fear Miranda. However, throughout the film we never hear Miranda talk about her title in a way to gain power. Instead Andrea uses her name to try and get her a flight home from Miami when all flights are cancelled due to the weather.
Referent power is based on charisma. Miranda holds plenty of charisma but her unwarming personality is the reason why referent power wouldn’t work in her favor. Her leadership has a lot to do with expert power. Her skills and expertise are undeniable by everyone in the fashion industry. The followers of people holding expert power tend to trust and do what they say. Miranda also uses reward power; an example of this in the film is the opportunity for one of her assistants to go to Paris for fashion week.
Analyzing the contemporary leadership theories, Miranda is categorized as an un-ethical charismatic leader as the traits and behaviors of such leaders are to promote own personal goals and visions. It seems to be all about Miranda and what she wants. Her opinion is regarded as the highest and she thrives off this. Consequently it is why her decisions are accepted without being refused. Miranda also disapproves of critical views that may be mentioned about her in the media. This is noticed in the scene where the divorce is being finalized and she asks of Andrea to minimize press when she returns to New York.
Miranda also uses a lot of one way communication with her staff, by answering their questions with her personal phrase, “That’s all. ” Instantly disregarding the opposition leaving them with no chance to give opinions or ask questions. She is insensitive to her followers needs and this is why Nigel did not get promoted towards the end of the film. Looking at the situational leadership model, I’ve identified Miranda to be in the S1 segment as she doesn’t show much support to her workers but does have high direct task behaviour. This shows that she is a “teller” when it comes to commanding.
Miranda also shows high levels on internal locus of control as she tries to control everything. She believes the outcome of the events in her life is to do with how well she works to achieve something. This trait is evident in good leaders. What makes an effective leader varies from person to person and whom they are leading. However a chapter in the book called “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, (2010) outlines the major attributes of Leadership which I believe is shown in Miranda’s personality throughout the film. Firstly, having unwavering courage.
No follower will want to be dominated and led by a leader who has no confidence in what she or he believes, and not have the courage to carry it out. Miranda doesn’t lack confidence in what she trusts. Evidence is she wouldn’t have hired Andrea in the first place if she didn’t believe in her potential. A risk she was willing to take. Miranda also discarded a $300,000 photo shoot because it didn’t meet her standards. These actions take bags of courage. Secondly, Miranda shows self-control. She doesn’t shout or scream when things are going wrong.
She stays cool and collective. The definiteness of decisions and plans are a must for any leader to be successful. Miranda also shows traits of doing more than paid for. For example risking family life to make sure the business is running well. This is almost life dedication. It is also highly important for a leader to be a mastery of detail. Evidence for this comes from the scene when she forces a designer to redo his collection with only the pursing of her lips. Her opinion is the only one that matters. Miranda also shows the willingness to assume full responsibility.
She does this towards the end of the film as she gives up her position for a younger woman. She also cooperates with the board chairman of the company that publishes Runway by doing so. Bad traits shown in Miranda’s leadership are namely, disloyalty to Nigel. He has the assumption that he is going to be promoted to another position outside the company, yet she gives this opportunity to someone else. He however takes it well, and hopes that she would pay him back for everything he has done for her one day. Another obvious negative trait of hers is the emphasis of her authority.
“The efficient leader leads by encouraging, and not by trying to instill fear in the hearts of its followers. The leader who tries to impress his followers with his “authority” comes within the category of leadership through force. ” Napoleon Hill, (2010). As a true leader sacrifices have to be made. One of which Miranda faced was her divorce due to the lack of time she had for her husband, as highlighted in an argument between them after her missing dinner again. The film highlights that getting ahead in your career comes with many detriments, soon enough Andrea discovers for herself.
The lack in work-life balance bought Andrea to wonder. The scene where she discusses this with Nigel, whose response was: “When it goes down in flames, that’s when its time for a promotion. ” In conclusion, there are organisations that run on this type of management. These are usually very publicized or high earning industries that have no room for error. Within every business there is the head where all decisions are passed onto for the final say. The only difference would be is that it isn’t always just one person as shown in this film.
In comparison to other 21st century businesses, Unilever for example have a board of directors that have years of experience within the organisation that make all final decisions. This highly qualified board consists of 12 people, 3 of which are women. “In the UK, women make up 6% of the core executive posts (E. g. CEO, finance directors)”. Gerry Holt, (2012). It is even harder for a woman to be taken seriously in the business world, so the approach Miranda has taken is very effective in taking charge and keeping everything well managed so that the business remains highly profitable.
In the future, I would personally like to see the relationship between the leader and follower or in this case employee and employers to be one of mutual cooperation and partnership. Some businesses do take this approach for example John Lewis work as a partnership. However this is only to a certain extent. It is inevitable that there always will be a hierarchy in the work place as long as they hold traits of being a leader.