Evelle and Gale Snoats
When John Goodman’s Gale and William Forsythe’s Evelle, in the 1987 Coen Brother’s classic Raising Arizona, walk into that dusty farmer’s bank for one of their standard bank robberies they face a test of their leadership skills. They need their followers (the people in the bank being robbed) to follow their directions-freeze and get down. It seems like a simple enough request that I’m sure Gale has shouted out at numerous robberies. Freeze and Get Down! Don’t question, just do. It just happens that at this robbery he is asked to clarify his message. As you can see from the clip, he doesn’t know how to handle a follower asking him to clarify his message.
Watching this clip after reading about followership made me think about Robert Kelley writing that he decided to put a stake in the ground and say to the world, “We need to pay attention to followers.” Leaders don’t exist without followers.
Whether he wants to be or not, the old man in the bank is being forced to be Gale and Evelle’s follower. If you were to sit down with Gale and Evelle to discuss the types of followers that are outlined in The Art of Followership, I feel confident that they would prefer The Sheep. I think most bank robbers would select sheep followers that are passive and look to the leader to motivate them. The sheep is the go-to in most bank robbery movies. But maybe Gale and Evelle are more into Yes-people. The yes-people are positive, always on the leader’s side, but still looking to the leader to make the decisions. The yes-people are positive and full of energy. Yes-people are the doers, they might even help the brothers load the money into the getaway car! I can’t imagine that Gale and Evelle would want Alienated followers. These followers think for themselves but have a lot of negative energy. Not good in a robbery situation. They would not be willing to follow the brother’s lead. They might be willing to work with the Pragmatics, they might eventually come around but that could take time and time is not on your side in a bank robbery situation. I can’t imagine that Gale and Evelle would think that they would want a Star Follower as star followers think for themselves, are very active, and have positive energy. But I would urge them to think of the old man in the bank as their star follower.
The old man IS following. He has his hands up in the air for heaven’s sake! BUT he is asking questions of his bank-robbing leader. He is challenging the leader, and offering constructive criticism to help Gale clarify his message to the other followers in the bank. While Gale is unhappy to hear this at the time of the robbery, you can see from the look on his face that he has never before thought about how he was delivering his robbery opening line. It took a Star Follower to point out the inconsistency of his message. If Gale and Evelle take the Star Followers questioning to heart, it will help the brothers to deliver a clearer message at their next robbery. This will help them become better bank robbers until they inevitably end up back in lock-up in a prison in Arizona.
Riggio,R.E., Chaleff, I., Lipman-Blumen, J. (2008). The Art of Followership: How Great Followers Create Great Leaders and Organizations. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.