Great man and theory of leadership
The main idea behind Great Man theory is that leaders cannot be made, for they are born leaders (Great Man Theory, Assumptions, n.d.). The supporters of the great man theory concentrated mainly on well known historical political and military leaders (Leadership Theories, The Great Man Theory, ¶1). They also claimed that unexpected events, like for instance war, can also cause sudden rise of the leader, among which one could list Napoleon Bonaparte, George Washington, or even Adolf Hitler, who managed to gain support of the majority of the population. But even centuries earlier, humankind witnessed historical events used to support the concept of the great leader theory, like for instance Moses (Great Man Theory, Description, n.d), who was seen as the only one capable of freeing Israelites.
The leaders, who fall into the group of the great man, were perceived not only as heroic but also mythic, possessing specific traits (Leadership Theories, The Great Man Theory, ¶2). On the other hand, because people posses different traits, it was impossible for the great man theory supporters to establish an universal model of the great man, characterized by common values and the same number of traits. Nevertheless, those who support Trait Theory believe that a set of universal traits of leaders can be established (Leadership Theories, Trait Theory, ¶4), and “people who make good leaders have the right ‘or sufficient’ combination of traits (Trait Leadership Theory, 12Manage, Assumptions of Trait Theory, ¶3). Basically, if one can identify people to have the certain traits, the traits falling into the Trait Theory boundary, then leaders can be easily identified (Shead, ¶1).
Clawthon (1996, ¶5) writes that “fate or providence was a major determinant of the course of history, the contention that leaders are born, not made was widely accepted, not only by scholars, but by those attempting to influence the behavior of others”. According to him, the Great Man theory has been abounded due to the increased interest in the behavioral sciences, and to the claim that if not everyone, then many, can be trained to become leaders through enhancing their abilities, for “nurture is far more important than nature in determining who becomes a successful leader” (1996, ¶6). One could say that one of the reason behind abounding The Great Man and Trait Theory was also the fact that instead to concentrate on effective leadership it looked into what possible could make a great leader. It fully focused on leader, omitting the importance of the followers (Leadership Theories, Weaknesses, ¶1 ), who might look for a certain traits in their leaders and abound them if failed to find. Among those desired traits are honesty, inspiration, forward-looking, competency, and intelligence (Shead, ¶6).