Chapter 1: Leadership theories
Leadership theories are attempts to answer some of the question people have about leadership. These theories range from simple “armchair philosophies” about the personal characteristics and effect relationship between leaders and followers and situations.
Great man theory
Thomas Carleyle, an influential Scottish historian, is given credit for the dictum: “the history of the world is but the biography of great men”. We can easily relate to Carleyle’s view since specific examples of men who seem to have changed the course of history come readily to mind de Gaulle, Hitler, Jesus Christ, Lincoln, Alexander the Great, Napoleon, Lenin, and Martin Luther King. ...view middle of the document...
Great men cannot be understood in isolation from the human and situational variables essential to leadership. Leadership results from the interaction behavior of leaders. Great man leaders owe, at least, some of their greatness to circumstances and followers.
Leadership trait theory
This theory is based on the premise that there are certain personality characteristics that are essential for a person to possess in order to be a leader. The main emphasis is on what the person is in terms of a constellation of personality traits. This theory searches for that set of universal leadership traits that will assure success. Numerous traits have been suggested: courage, integrity, loyalty, charisma, ambition, intelligence, honesty, clairvoyance, persistence, arrogance, health, political skill, confidence and vision.
The major problem with this theory is that no one has ever found a set of leadership traits that could be supported as truly universal an essential to successful leadership. Years of leadership research have not led to the conclusion that there is any consistent pattern of personality traits that characterize leaders.
Many factors have contributed to the failure to discover the leadership trait: difficulty and measuring and describing personality traits; problem in establishing cause and effect relations (due traits cause leadership or does leadership cause traits?); and disagreements on the meaning of terms, such as loyalty and courage and even leadership
However, the primary factors that accounts for the failure to establish a definite link between personality traits and leadership is the same factor that limits the value of great...