Evolution of Leadership Theories

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Submitted By jda1979
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Evolution of Leadership Theories
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Leadership is, and always has been, a vital aspect of social and economic constructs. It is essential to the survival of societies, industries, organizations, and virtually any group of individuals that come together for a common purpose. However, leadership is difficult to define in a single, definitive sense. As such, theories of leadership, what constitutes a great leader, and how leaders are made have evolved constantly throughout history, and still continue to change today in hopes of improving upon our understanding of leadership, its importance, and how it can be most effective in modern organizational cultures.
This evolving trend of leadership can generally be seen throughout four distinct eras, the Great Man Leadership era, the Rational Management era, the Team or Lateral Leadership era, and the Learning Leadership era (Daft, 2008, p. 21). Each era utilized a different way of thinking about leadership and leaders than the others, with each new era implementing a unique trend for leadership theories, and sometimes adapting and building upon existing leadership theories.
The Great Man Leadership era was the earliest era, employed first by ancient philosophers, such as Plato and Aristotle, who believed that leaders were naturally born with special abilities that made them inherently great leaders (DeGrosky, 2007). The first leadership theory, called the Great Man theory, outlined that these “great men” were simply born to be leaders, and that no other man could hope to become a leader. These leaders were idolized as being naturally-born superior humans, usually kings, emperors, and military generals (DeGrosky, 2007). The Great Man theory focused on identifying these leaders in order to place them into positions of leadership, since they believed that leaders were simply born this way, and could…...

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