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Different Leadership Styles of Fa Mulan

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“The Disney princess has changed dramatically over the years from a victim of circumstance to a fighter and warrior … [such as] Mulan of China.” (Hoefner-Notz). Often female characters do not play the lead in roles that express their powerful leadership skills. The movie, Mulan, is one of the first Disney movies that empowers female characters in a way male characters are often portrayed — strong, powerful and unwavering. Mulan is a character that is able to take charge and see out her goals and objectives. The movie is also a gateway to empower young viewers that anything is possible whether they are a girl or boy. Throughout the movie, Fa Mulan has gradually shown different styles of leadership that she performs and unconsciously influence those around her. Fa Mulan is a leader that has decision-making skills and goals, is a participative leader that has a strong mindset, and shows much understanding of different areas of emotional intelligence.

Fa Mulan had a strong sense of decision-making skills, she is constantly taking chances to exploit opportunities she is given. She took chances at multiple opportunities such as taking her father’s place in the army disguised as a male under the alias; Ping. Also she decides to preserve and train harder to stay in the army, and even after her identity and was exiled from the army she still seeks out to help them when she realized their enemy, the Huns, were headed to their village. “Decisions [made] rarely occur without context. Often, the rewards available from each option depend on previous choices.” (Worthy, Darrell A., et al, 1375). Fa Mulan made many risky decisions, but she did not hesitate to think of the good causes of her decisions. Joining the army secretively was for the best interest of her sick father who was summoned to join. Mulan’s other decisions such as not giving up on the intense training that had ultimately encouraged the troop to train harder. Having decision making skills as a leader allowed Mulan to have many more opportunities that would in change the view of gender devision and role to many.

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“A participative leader must have a pioneering, imaginative and adventuresome mindset.” (Alptekin Sökmen, Alev Sökmen, 22). As Mulan’s sick father had been called out to serve in the army, she takes it upon herself to secretly disguise herself as a man to take her father’s place in the army. As this happens to be one of the first scenes in the movie, Mulan, you can clearly see the lead character taking an initiative as a participative leader to break the sexist stereotype and doing the unimaginable — serving men only based army. Though Mulan disused herself as a man in the begin, her mindset and goals broke many boundaries for females who are strictly forbidden to join. Participative leadership often leads to positively affects followers and bystanders in order to reach goals and objectives (Alptekin Sökmen, Alev Sökmen, 22). As the story goes on, Mulan needed to train harder than most of the other soldiers to fit the part as a man and a warrior. Unknowingly, in her determination and strong efforts to persevere despite discouragement she received, she began to inspire the other warriors training. As Mulan became a skillful warrior, she felt as if she was an equal to her other troop members. Her constant effort had made her an equal to them because she was able to create a bond with the troop and was as skillful as them as well.

Gender stereotypes in children’s television shows and movies often give male characters as the lead role to be portrayed with such physical aggression and planning while females roles often show display of affection and concerns for their appearance (Hentges, Case, 320). Fa Mulan is one of Disney’s most well-rounded leaders, who teaches young viewers that anything is possible whether you are male or female. As the story progresses, Mulan encounters the four sections of emotional intelligence; self-awareness, social awareness, self-management, and social skills. Mulan had broken the stereotypes that Disney often portrayed which not only inspires other characters but also the viewers. Her journey allowed her to experience all areas of emotional intelligence. Fa Mulan is self-aware that she is illegally taking her father’s place in the army could very well get her killed, but still decides to foresee her mission. Knowing that females are forbidden in China from entering the army and that she needs to keep her identity hidden and work 10 times harder than any other recruits, yet Mulan makes her decision even though she understands the environment she chose to enter. Slowly and steadily she adapts to the intense training environment through her drive and determination to not bring shame to her family. The beginning of their training camp, Mulan encounters a group of men that had the desire to get her kicked out by purposely making her make mistake because she was visually looked like the weakest man in their troop. Mulan soon influenced the troublesome group of men to work hard together after retrieving the arrow from the top of a podium which no other males achieved. Her social skills skyrocketed and her influence created bonds with for future teamwork and collaboration with the other men. “We all have a responsibility to play our individual roles in this.” (Compton, 2911). She took responsibility to better her training as she made a commitment to serve the army. Though unaware to the characters in the movie, Mulan, she has also created an awareness to the female audience that they have the potential to do things men can as well.

Fa Mulan had shown multiple different styles of leadership. These styles often came to the surface of her personality when she worked with determination and a lot of effort in training. Mulan became a great leader that often inspired the troop members to excel and work harder to become a better army. Mulan is a leader that is able to influence others that could ultimately influence others with her decision-making skills, participative style, and multiple understanding for different emotional intelligence.

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