Evolution of Leadership Theories

1616 Words Dec 16th, 2012 7 Pages
Evolution of Leadership Theories
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Leadership is, and always has been, a vital aspect of social and economic constructs. It is essential to the survival of societies, industries, organizations, and virtually any group of individuals that come together for a common purpose. However, leadership is difficult to define in a single, definitive sense. As such, theories of leadership, what constitutes a great leader, and how leaders are made have evolved constantly throughout history, and still continue to change today in hopes of improving upon our understanding of leadership, its importance, and how it can be most effective in modern organizational cultures.
This evolving trend of leadership can generally be seen
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19). Still a part of the Great Man Leadership era, these trait theories just went a step further in attempting to pinpoint exactly which traits of these “great men” were consistently associated with the leaders, in an effort to more clearly define what a great leader was. This was again a further attempt to be able to identify a leader early on and predict which individuals were born to become leaders. It is thought that a major flaw with these theories was the failure to account for external factors, such as the environment in which the individuals were brought up in, as well as the situations they experienced (Horner, 2007, p. 270). Still today we do continue to study the characteristics of leaders in order to better define and understand what makes someone a good leader.
The next big era of leadership theories was the Rational Management era. When the previous era failed to determine exact traits that could consistently be identified in great leaders, a shift occurred to begin looking at how these leaders behaved, and what made them into great leaders, rather than who they were in a specific sense. This was a major shift from thinking that people were born leaders, to now considering that perhaps leaders could be made, or trained to become leaders. The first of these theories, beginning in the early 1950’s, were the behavior theories. The focus of these theories was to study what these leaders do, and…

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