The Great Man Theory Of Leadership

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The Great Man Theory of leadership dates back to the early 1900s where it was strongly believed that great leaders are born, not made. The basic premise of this theory has been contested since the inception of leadership study. While recent studies show some evidence to the contrary, the fundamental principle of the theory does retain some validity. The historian Thomas Carlyle coined the Great Man Theory as he argues the world’s history is simply a collection of biographies belonging to great men (U, 2016). Although referred to as the Great Man Theory, the foundation of the theory is gender neutral. It has more recently been termed the Great Man/Great Woman Theory of leadership, removing the gender associated bias. The lack of…show more content…
Executives, military leaders and senior government officials often possess a similar charisma that empowers them to lead effectively. Although they have all likely attended a slew of leadership seminars and workshops, there remains a certain x factor they all possess. To gain a worldwide perspective on the question born or made, the Center for Creative Leadership posed the question to executives spanning 53 countries. The results indicated a consensus to the contrary of the Great Man Theory. More than half, 53.4% of respondents believe that leaders are made, referred to as “Mades” while only 19.1% believe that they are born, “Borns”. Interestingly, about a quarter of the executives surveyed, 28.5%, think leaders are both born and made. (Mascone, 2013) Analyzing further, a combined 47.6% think there is some validity to being born a leader. Thus, it proves difficult to arrive at a conclusion with empirical data in support of either theory. The survey expanded on various leadership topics in an effort to determine what Borns and Mades believe are important characteristics of leaders. Both Borns and Mades believe that leaders should be humane, charismatic, participative and team oriented. Borns are more likely to believe that following protocol and behaving in traditional ways in accordance with the status and position of a leader will make them more effective.
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