A critique of Great Man and Trait theories.
Assignment prepared by Philip Barry 387169
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 and Aristotle through to present leaders in the field. Despite such a prolonged period of study there however, remains no consensus on an accepted definition of what leadership is, little consensus on what makes for good leadership, as well as limited consensus to what extent leadership can be truly learned and if so how to best develop it. As such it is easy to understand why it was Burns concluded that, “Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on the earth.”
Among the many debates still raging after 2500 years is the question “Are leaders born or made”; this assignment intends to further contribute to that debate through offering a critical analysis of “Great Man” and Trait theories of leadership. The assignment will consider the strengths, weaknesses of the theories, as well as the potential dangers that may result for organisations that too readily accept “Great Man” and Trait theories may result. Finally the assignment will briefly consider the implications of the debate to leadership selection.
Leaders are born a Critique
The statements that “he is a born leader” or “she is a natural leader” are statements that many of us will hear over our lifetime of work. The statements from
Bibliography: J Antonakis et al (2004) The Nature of Leadership, Thousand Oaks California, SAGE G B. Avolio (1999) Full Leadership Development; building the vital forces in organisations, London, SAGE G.A W. Bennis and Burt Nanus (1986) Leaders, New York, Harper Collins R P. G. Northouse (2004) 3rd end Leadership Theory and Practice, London, SAGE T M. Bower, (1997) Developing Leaders in business, Mckinsey Quarterly, 1997, issue 4, p4-17 L David McCullough interview by F. Bronwyn, (2008) Timeless Leadership, Harvard Business Review, March 2008, Vol 86 issue 3, p45-49 D B. Kellerman, (2004) Leadership Warts and All, Harvard Business Review, Jan 2004, vol 82 issue 1, p40-45 C Kennedy, (2005) No More Heroes, Director, Jan 2005, vol S. Kirkpatrick & E. Locke (1991) Leadership: do Traits Matter, Academy of Management Executive, 5 (1991), pp 48-60 J M. McCall (2004) Leadership development through experience, Academy of Management Executive, 2004, vol 18, no.3, p127-130 R.M T. Richman (1995) They’re made not Born Harvard Business Review, Nov/Dec 95 vol 73, issue 6, p15-16. G. Yukl (1999) An Evaluation of conceptual weaknesses in transformational and charismatic leadership theories, Leadership Quarterly, 4(3), p379-382