The Great Man Theory

January 9, 2024

The Great Man Theory:

Have you heard of the name of the great man theory of leadership?
Have you ever heard someone described as “born to lead”?
Are leaders born or made?
The following article will introduce you to one of the theories that explained some leadership styles.
_  According to the reader’s survey of the previous question, it is clear that some great leaders are born natural leaders who possess the necessary characteristics and traits that prepare them to be leaders, such as charisma, confidence, intelligence, and social skills that make them natural leaders.
_  The great man theory assumes that the ability to lead is innate, that is, great leaders are born and not made. The term “great man” was used because at the time leadership was primarily seen as a masculine adjective, especially in relation to military leadership.
  _The great man theory suggests that people can’t really learn how to become strong leaders, it’s like genes are something you were born with or without it, and critics of this theory believe it is unrealistic in its basic assumptions.
Who is the author of the Great Man Theory?
   “World history is nothing but the biography of great men,” Carlisle said, reflecting his belief that heroes shaped history through their personal traits and divine inspiration.
 _  Some believe that the Great Man theory is one of the most important theories and practices of leadership and management, which assumes that good leaders are born and have innate traits and skills that make them distinguished, and these traits cannot be taught or learned, and according to this theory, leaders deserve to be in their positions because of their special traits, for example, Mahatma Gandhi, Abraham Lincoln, Julius Caesar, Alexander the Great, and others. You also assume that a person who is capable of leadership possesses the personality traits of a leader from birth that set them apart from others, and that these traits are not something you can learn.
_Highly influential:
  The idea of the theory began in the 19th century by the Scottish writer Thomas Carlyle, and it is based on the fact that history can be explained – to a large extent – by the influence of great men or heroes, who are highly influential individuals; either because of charisma, intelligence, wisdom, entrepreneurship, self-confidence, insight, social sense, effective communication skills, or the use of political skill to employ influence in a way that influenced the course of history.
   So the criterion for having successful leadership here depends on the innate talents that the leader possesses; the leader, through his influential personality, can win over subordinates when they are ready to accept change.
_Qualities of great leaders:
  For his part, researcher Stu Gaddel studied more than 278 papers during 66 years, where he delved into the qualities of leaders between 1904-1970, and found that leaders differ from subordinates in a set of traits: intelligence, initiative, perseverance, self-confidence, responsibility, vigilance, insight, and social sense.
  And that modern theories are not in line with the theory of the great man; leadership has become an art that people can be trained in, and their talents refined, and it is not necessarily limited to innate qualities, and this does not mean that any individual can become a great leader; there are people who cannot bear the burden of responsibility, and are burdened by the severity of decision-making and its consequences, and there are those who evade it.
The importance and applications of the Great Man Theory:
  The theory of the great man has gained an important place among leadership theories, and has been applied in many research and studies in various fields such as social, political and military fields.
  Despite criticism, the Great Man Theory is considered the most prominent and well-known leadership theory.
   _The application of the great man theory is based primarily on the premise that leaders are extraordinary individuals and possess a number of unique traits that qualify them for leadership that are innate traits that cannot be acquired.
  The Great Man Theory of leadership became popular during the nineteenth century. The myths behind some of the world’s most famous leaders such as Abraham Lincoln, Julius Caesar, Mahatma Gandhi and Alexander the Great helped support the Great Man Theory and contribute to the idea that great leaders were born and not made.
_The most prominent criticisms of the great man theory:
A number of criticisms have been directed at the Great Man’s Theory of leadership, including:
1The assumption that leaders are either born or not born, shows that there is no work or effort required to be able to become a leader, and this suggests that social or psychological leaders are predetermined, and that leaders are unable to come from the shadows, either they are chosen or not.
2- Most of the traits associated with this theory are inherently masculine, and do not match the real psychology of good leaders.
3- A leader cannot make a difference within any group; if the group does not bring about some kind of change on its own or the group does not respond to change, then change and making a difference depends more on the group itself and not on the leader.
4- Leadership traits can be greatly developed and acquired, and a person is not required to be born with some individual traits that qualify him for leadership positions, but through personal development, the individual can acquire the same traits that qualify him to assume a certain leadership position.
5-It is a traditional theory that does not correspond to most modern theories, as leadership has become a type of art, which can be trained.
The explanation for such theories is that some leadership theories are better for certain work environments than others. You can practice one driving style or experiment with a combination based on your needs.
  But this assumption did not find great acceptance by some scientists, with the development of education tools and skills that can be acquired, great leaders emerge, and in 1860 the thinker “Herbert Spencer” presented a different vision and contrary to the theory of the great man, in which he stressed that those who are such a great man are the product of their societies, and that their actions would not have occurred without social conditions before their lives, and the philosopher and psychologist “William James” responded to him, defending the theory of the great man, and that the unique physiological nature of the individual It is the decisive factor in the formation of the great man, who in turn is the decisive factor in changing his environment in a unique way, without which the new environment would not have happened.
The theory is based on the concept that if leadership is simply an innate quality, then all people who possess the necessary traits will eventually find themselves in leadership roles.

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