Film Analysis: The Toughest Job

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In The Toughest Job: William Winter’s Mississippi, viewers are introduced to the background and political career of former governor of Mississippi, William Winter. Centered around his rise to the highest political position in the state amidst the volatile changes occurring in Mississippi at the time, the film specifically explores his attempts to create educational reform in the state and the many tribulations that came with such a pursuit. When examining how Winter was able to lead and enact real change despite many challenges and setbacks, there are clear examples of effective leadership, argumentative structure, and strategic communicative behaviors from which to learn from. As a politician, Winter exhibits more than one form of power.…show more content…
As stated in the text, “referent power depends on feelings of affection, esteem, and respect for another individual” (Hack and Johnson 2013, 141). As this type of power is one that is usually developed over long periods of time, Winter clearly built upon this image of himself he had created from the time he was a young man beginning to establish himself as a political leader in Mississippi (Hackman and Johnson 2013, 141). By attaching himself to educational and political endeavors as a young man, he started establish his credibility and gain the respect of those around him. Seen as progressive at the time, his views on segregation and education in Mississippi, and his unwillingness to go back on his stances despite criticism, also earned him, if not immediately, the eventual admiration and respect of many that contributed to his use referent power. He would continue to rely on this power well into his term as governor. Acts such as inviting black singer Leontyne Price to sing at and stay in the Governor’s Mansion at a time when her performances could not be aired on television in the state earned him the respect from many, especially those in the black community. A clear example of Winter’s use of referent power in the film is found in former President Bill Clinton’s admiration for and subsequent inspiration by Winter’s ultimate success in getting an education reform bill passed in Mississippi, stating, “that’s what leadership
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