How can you properly define leadership? "It is important to understand that there is no single correct definition" (Hughes, Ginnett & Curphy, 2002, p. 7). It isn't even correct to assume that all leadership leads to successful conclusions or goals attained. The text quotes Roach & Behling (1984) as stating "The process of influencing an organized group toward accomplishing its goals" (Hughes et al, 2002, p. 7). In the film and story of the real Erin Brockovich, her leadership not only influenced an organized group, her efforts did the original organizing.
Leadership is more than someone saying 'FOLLOW ME!"?
As the film Erin Brockovich clearly shows, leadership includes the art of persuasion, the courage of one's convictions, and the determination to stay the course. As the real-life as well as the film Erin Brockovich reveals, leaders and leadership-may come from the most unusual backgrounds and experience. When one considers that "experience" is a vital component of leadership qualities, this doesn't mean that one has to graduate from law school, pass the bar, and set up a practice. "Experience is not just a matter of what events happen to you; it also depends on how you perceive those events" (Hughes et al, 2002, p. 51).
There is another important leadership value inherent in Erin Brockovich, which even her "boss" took a long time to comprehend: compassion. Frankly, we seldom see the legal professions as leaders. In fact, in the film it took some time for Erin's boss, Ed Masry, to think about the needs of their clients, rather than the money that was in it for his law firm. When we think of compassionate leaders, we tend to think of such institutions as the American Civil Liberties Union, certain defense lawyers who vouch for poor clients and work pro bono. Erin's compassion made her a leader in the sense that she provided the push and the pull to not let this specific case drag on interminably.