The Founder is an American film that was released in 2016 (The Founder). The movie focuses on how Ray Kroc, a salesman, turned McDonald’s into the world’s largest restaurant business (The Founder). Michael Keaton won the Carpi Festival’s Best Actor Award in 2016 for his role as Ray Kroc in the movie (McNary). This report will discuss four Business Leadership concepts found in the movie.

Unit 2: Autocratic Leadership Style

Leaders who fall under the Autocratic Leadership Style can have the following characteristics: they prioritize the task over workers, expect employees to obey without justification, and they aren’t interested in sharing their authority (Unit 2: Leading Activity 5: Business Leaders). This type of leadership style can be effective for untrained workers, time sensitive decisions, or as a last resort if employees are unable to follow other leadership styles (Unit 2: Leading Activity 5: Business Leaders).

In The Founder, Ray Kroc demonstrated autocratic leadership. He often made decisions without the consent of the McDonald brothers which included sending powdered milkshakes to all the franchisees unsolicited and expecting them to utilize the packets (The Founder). Kroc also wanted to remove the brothers from decisions entirely, showing that he didn’t want to share his authority (The Founder).

Unit 1: Classical Approach – Scientific Method

The Scientific Method has four core guiding principles: create specific procedures that include proper working conditions and the correct tools, ensure workers are fit for the job, train workers and provide incentives for obeying instructions, and remove obstacles from the workplace (Unit 1: Foundations of Management Activity 3: Management Theories). This method aims to finish tasks with utmost efficiency (Unit 1: Foundations of Management Activity 3: Management Theories).

In The Founder, the employees at McDonalds were given a role where they had to perform a single task (The Founder). This led to some employees having the sole job of putting ketchup on buns with specialized tool dispensers or cooking hamburger patties (The Founder). Dick McDonald also decided to revamp the entire kitchen to find the optimal layout through multiple redesigns on a tennis court and having employees run through their tasks (Unit 1: Foundations of Management Activity 3: Management Theories). This shows that the McDonald brothers utilized most of the core principles to create the most efficient way of serving their food.

Unit 3: McClelland’s Acquired Needs Theory

Motivation allows individuals to perform at their utmost performance to reach their targets (Unit 3: Management Challenges Activity 1: What is Motivation?). McClelland’s Acquired Needs Theory states that individuals would acquire needs as they experienced life (Unit 3: Management Challenges Activity 1: What is Motivation?). The theory has three needs: need for achievement, need for affiliation, and need for power (Unit 3: Management Challenges Activity 1: What is Motivation?). The need for achievement desires efficiency or mastering complex tasks while the need for power desires to control or influence others and the need for affiliation desires healthy and friendly relations with others (Unit 3: Management Challenges Activity 1: What is Motivation?).

The film displayed two of the three needs. In The Founder, the need for achievement was shown by both the McDonald brothers. The McDonald brothers saw drive-ins as tedious and costly (The Founder). Dick realized that most sales were from only three items, so they began cutting down on unnecessary things such as unpopular menu items, dishes, and the cigarette machine (The Founder). The brothers desired to make their restaurant highly efficient. Ray Kroc had the need for power, he demonstrated this when he took the recognition as being the founder of McDonald’s and broke free from the McDonald brothers, taking control of the McDonald’s brand (The Founder). He wanted to manage many franchises and quickly expanded the McDonald’s influence (The Founder). In both examples, the individuals were able to motivate themselves to reach and even surpass their targets.

Unit 2: Charismatic Leadership Style

A charismatic leader can be described with the following characteristics: provides inspiration and motivation, pays attention to information and ideas, and builds the confidence of others while making them feel important (Unit 2: Leading Activity 5: Business Leaders). This style can be useful for leaders that want to expand to different areas, when employees need motivation, and when extraordinary outcomes are expected (Unit 2: Leading Activity 5: Business Leaders).

In The Founder, Ray Kroc often utilizes a Charismatic Leadership Style to expand McDonalds. Kroc often listened to the ideas of others such as utilizing powdered milkshakes to minimize refrigeration costs and to lease the land to franchisees (The Founder). He went to many events and inspired crowds that McDonald’s was a good investment if they put in the effort (The Founder). This resulted in McDonald’s expanding quickly and entering the real-estate business. Ray Kroc was able to motivate potential and current franchisees to make McDonald’s massive and profitable.


In conclusion, The Founder displays many management concepts such as the Autocratic Leadership Style, the Classical Approach - Scientific Method, McClelland’s Acquired Needs Theory, and the Charismatic Leadership Style. The concepts are justified with examples throughout the movie.

I believe this movie demonstrated a decent illustration of current management challenges and the changing role of management. There was a power struggle in this movie and the split authority between Ray Kroc and the McDonald brothers is an excellent example of when a business introduces a new investor who has different visions than the others. The film also demonstrates how management needs to consider ethics; Dick McDonald refused powdered milkshakes without milk because it was morally wrong to him. Ray Kroc’s decision to run the original McDonald’s restaurant to bankruptcy was ethically wrong and would be seen negatively. The reason I believe it isn’t an excellent illustration is because of the large use of both autocratic leadership and the Scientific Method. Managers today still utilize these concepts but have been transitioning to use concepts that change based on the situation such as the contingency theory. Management today is no longer solely telling someone what to do.

Works Cited

McNary, Dave. Michael Keaton, Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone Win Capri Festival Awards. 30 December 2016. Variety. 21 July 2021. The Founder. n.d. IMDb. 21 July 2021. The Founder. By Robert Siegel. Dir. John Lee Hancock. Perf. Michael Keaton, Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch. The Weinstein Company; FilmNation Entertainment; Faliro House Productions; The Combine. 2016. Unit 1: Foundations of Management Activity 3: Management Theories. n.d. TDSB. 21 July 2021. Unit 2: Leading Activity 5: Business Leaders. n.d. TDSB. 21 July 2021. Unit 3: Management Challenges Activity 1: What is Motivation? n.d. TDSB. 21 July 2021.