One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest Leadership Analysis

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Throughout Ken Kesey’s, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the balance of power is challenged in the psychiatric ward. Out of the several leaders that appear in the novel, Nurse Ratched and McMurphy are the most prominent. During Nurse Ratched and McMurphy struggle for power, they share many of the same qualities. It is argued that: “McMurphy and Ratched are alike in intelligence, military service, distinctive (if opposite) clothing, and conventionally masculine qualities” (Evans). These small similarities; however, do not distract the characters from fighting for their individual beliefs. Both McMurphy and Nurse Ratched approached their leadership in different ways. McMurphy uses transformational leadership, which is a leader that “must perform some combination of the transactional functions (plan, direct, organize, control) in order to build respect and trust… [and the] leader gets people to work towards some higher purpose or goal” (O’Connor). In other words, it is a leader who achieves a “higher goal”, while “build[ing] respect and trust” from the people. On the other hand, Nurse Ratched uses authoritarian leadership, which is when “Policies [are] determined by the leader. [The] leader determines what each member should do and with whom he should work… Some find it difficult to diffuse authority… [which] causes some to feel threatened and insecure” (Sferra). More simply, an authoritative leader is one that has supreme power over the people. McMurphy’s transformational
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