Leadership Theory: Leadership Thought Prior To 1900

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Leadership Thought Prior to 1900
The earliest study of leadership thought would be the “Great Man Theory. This theory conceptualized leaders as a single “Great Man” who knew everything and influenced others to follow him. In leadership discourse, the Great Man theory—an assertion that certain individuals, certain men, are gifts from God placed on earth to provide the lightening needed to uplift human existence—is associated mainly with Thomas Carlyle (Spector, 2015, p.250). The focal-point of this theory is that leaders’ skills are inherent and set that them apart from those around them and that these traits enable them to assume roles of power and authority. Those individuals who were believed to have these inherent skills were people of very influential status, wartime heroes and those of great wealth. The people who emerge or are most picked to lead have distinctive drives and character profiles (Nicholson, 2013, p.16).
Leadership Thought Development from 1900 – 1970
The thought of leadership evolved from the Great Man Theory to Trait Theory and Behavior Theory. The trait theory focuses on identifying distinctive personality traits and characteristics that are associated to successful leadership. The definitions of leadership appearing in the first three decades of the 20th century emphasized control and centralization of power (Northouse, 2016, p.2). In the early 1900s research began to see if leaders possessed certain traits or characteristics that would distinguish
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