The Devil Wears Prada provides an example of an overt and opinionated leader in Miranda Priestly, the character played by Meryl Streep. When answering the question of what makes a leader, it is clear that Miranda Priestly provides an example of a woman in charge, however the question of what makes a real leader is certainly a more complicated consideration. While Mrs. Priestly is certainly an authoritative leader, she purposefully chooses not to recognize the successes of those around her, suggesting that she is not as confident in her own success as she first appears. In fact, it is likely that she is a character wrought with self-doubt as she forces those around her to remain constantly in ambivalence about their own abilities as a means to enforce her own totalitarian leadership.

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Not only does this style of leadership alienate her from other likeable characters in the film, but it also limits her ability to be a successful leader. She is unable to utilize her staff’s creativity to its fullest potential. And, she invites dissention from others on her staff that feel they will have no ability to succeed or rise in the ranks without working around her instead of working through her support. For those members on her staff who are new and driven such as Anne Hathaway’s character, Andy, she exhausts them creatively and, perhaps without even realizing it, provides them with the very callous skills they need to circumvent her leadership and later betray her.

In this particular film, the question of how others perceive Meryl Streep is easily answered. There is no obscurity between Miranda and the negative view her staff has of her. In actuality it is difficult to describe how they feel about her without expletives, however her nature on the surface is actually more complicated. In reality, she uses other characters perceptions of her as a negative voice used to incite fear in those around her and to leave them no choice but to carry out her insane standards.

Not only is Meryl Streep a recognizable actress, she is one of class and poise. This is precisely why she was chosen to act in this specific role. If she were a man instead, she might simply be seen as a businessman, ill cast in this role and more suited to the role of the TV show MadMen or another that praises men for being authoritative leaders. Often times men in business are given a certain sense of leeway in having high standards for those under them. However, women are typically seen as more demanding when they are bosses that hold others to the same high standards as themselves. Particularly because this film revolves around the world of fashion, the issue of gender is an interesting one. While a man’s opinions may not be viewed as being as competent in this realm, Streep’s character is respected only by being an overtly assertive female.

In this film in particular, there is a unique example to really experience what might be if a male character played her role as the role of Nigel played by Stanley Tucci acts as a foil to Meryl Streep. Equally competent, on paper, in the world of fashion and also a strong personality, he is seen as less likely to take on a leadership role because he is a male in a female driven industry (Richardson, 2012). Had Miranda allowed a more collaborative leadership style, she would have likely been able to use Nigel’s expertise to the overall benefit of the magazine. Instead she saw him as a threat and betrayed him, leading to her downfall. In general the strategy of the best leaders is to bring out the best in their team instead of bulldozing any idea that may be different.

If Miranda were of a different race, she might be sassier or more forceful or, in fact, an example of a less forceful and subsequently less effective leader. It is impossible to ignore the reality that Caucasian people are seen to more likely inhabit a position of power than people of other races. As such, it is almost undeniable that a character of another race with the exact same lines and attitude as the character Meryl Streep portrays would been seen differently.

Not only would I absolutely not follow the leadership style implemented by Meryl Streep’s character in the film, the very message in the film itself cautions against following this kind of blind dictatorial leadership style. At the end of the film, almost every character has seen the caustic reality of their boss. No longer is her opinion even appreciated let alone revered. Only in working to compromise with others and draw out their own strengths and inputs can one truly become an effective leader.