Are Leaders Made or Born: a Critique of Great Manand Trait Theories

4094 WordsNov 29, 200817 Pages
ARE LEADERS BORN OR MADE: A critique of Great Man and Trait theories. Assignment prepared by Philip Barry 387169 August 08 Introduction Leadership continues to be one of the most debated and studied topics in management and indeed society as a whole. This can be evidenced by the fact that if you search for leadership on Goggle 175,000,000 worldwide hits are recorded. Success in many arenas, whether it be business, the military, politics or the wider community is often primarily attributed to good leadership. Equally, organisational failure or under-performance is just as readily attributed to poor leadership. Leadership has been the subject of intense interest and debate for over two and a half millennia, from Plato…show more content…
Thirdly the two schools of thought dismiss the leader follower relationship, portraying a very one way relationship where followers have little to no impact on leaders. While such a model may have some relevance in a highly centralised command and control organisation in the public and voluntary sector (The NHS in particular) as well as LEAN organisations such as Toyota the leader follower relationship is much more complicated. Most importantly, however “Great Man” and Trait theorists ignore the situation and context that the leader is operating in. As Stoghill 1948 argues it is difficult to isolate a set of traits and characteristics of leaders without factoring in the situational effects. Importantly too, much of the research on traits is not directed at understanding the impact leaders have on outcomes or on those they lead. Hence while the research looks at traits that may be important in leader emergence the research tends not to explore the relationship between leadership traits and employee productivity or employee satisfaction. A significant criticism of the schools is that they romanticize the great leader presenting both a one sided portrayal of leadership as well as often conveniently glossing over their failings of

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