Pub. date: 2006 | Online Pub. Date: September 15, 2007 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412939584 | Print ISBN: 9780761930877 | Online ISBN: 9781412939584| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Great Man Theory
Max S. Skidmore
The great man theory represented the primary view of leadership in European and American societies, especially during the nineteenth century. Advocates of this theory believed there were a few exceptional men in each generation who were born with qualities and characteristics that caused other individuals to follow them. Their ability to lead others was not found in a set of skills that could be learned, but was thought to be a unique, internalized characteristic that was inherent in personality to such a degree as to be part of a leader's genetic structure. From an early age, leaders could attract followers through the magnetism of their personalities and their ability to direct the group in ways that produced significant changes to society. Until the last years ...