It is a process of getting a task done through people. There have been numerous amounts of theories and assumptions that have varied. Although words about leadership have been written by Egyptian and Greek philosophers about five thousand years ago, but the studies about different approaches to leadership did not commence until after World War 1. Since then, there has been a multitude of perspectives and theories produced.
The "Personality approach" emphasizes at the individual attributes of leaders, such as self confidence, risk taking, creativity, and persuasiveness. The "Behavior approach" looks at the actual activity performed by any leader that involves assessing regular tasks and behavioral characteristics of leaders. Lastly, the "Situational approach" focuses on leadership in terms of its relationships with factors such as subordinates, and peers. This approach is also referred to as "Contingency theory" because the situation determines the role of the leader.
First time a scientific research was carried out was in the early part of the twentieth century. These scientists' works with an assumption that leaders were people who had various attributes and personality traits that include physical characteristics, personality, social background, and ability that distinguished them from the rest. Therefore, this consistent philosophical view came to be known as the "Great Man Theory of Leadership."
The theory states that some people are 'born to be leaders' and not made. Such people possess a special quality that differentiates them as unique from common individual(s). One may say that the great leaders of the world like Julius Caesar or Napoleon would've achieved the same leadership role at anyplace or anytime in history.
In the Nineteen twenty's, some of the leadership researchers started taking this hypothetical theory literally. They began to search for specific traits that differentiated leaders and followers instead of looking at the traits that were common and then focusing on the ones that were not. The research lead many scientists to believe that in times of crises or emergency, a new leader may be the one who possess the characteristics of an influential leader thus conducted studies based on this theory during the nineteen thirty's to nineteen fifty's. In most cases, these studies looked for significant relations between measures of effective leadership and individual traits. Physical, mental, and social traits were issue. Nevertheless, the results of these studies turned out to be discouraging, as there was little or no correlation of traits with the ability to actually become a leader.
Although, it may be concluded that personality traits may not foresee leadership and that leadership may be different in various situations. Nevertheless, in the end, it's always a matter of perception and one should not reject the theory based on a group's perception.
As the validity of the results of the Personality, approach to leadership was doubtful, the researchers moved from leader traits to their outlook, in the beginning of nineteen fifty's.