Eventually concentrating on the three main ideas of leadership: Trait theory, Situational or behavioral theory, and Transformational theory, this essay will compare and contrast these ideas in order to discover whether modern ideas of super-leadership is really a 21st century innovation.
The first part of this essay will look at the history of leadership, and consider how these theories changed over time, and how they were affected by the politics of the day - whether Weber's hero-based theories fall out of favor because of "charismatic" leaders such as Hitler and Stalin, for example. The essay will then consider the two prime theories of leadership prior to the 1970's; trait theory, and situational theory. Through analysis of all of these historical theories, it is hoped that common perspectives and behaviors might be more clearly seen.
Having noted similar themes or behaviors within the historical theories, the next part of the essay will consider transformational leadership, and its development in the twentieth century. Notions of the Super-leader will also be examined.
Leadership theories do not just describe leaders of countries, or empires; indeed, leadership theory in the 20th century has also focused upon business leaders; modern theorists consider teachers, football coaches, and even parents, as leaders. There are a great many books written about it also: so anyone who can buy a book from a store can learn the tricks and secrets to being a great leader. Therefore, in order to understand what theorists mean when they are discussing leadership, a definition seems necessary. For the purposes of this essay, leadership is "The effort to influence the behavior of individuals or members of a group in order to accomplish organizational, individual, or personal goals" (National Resources Management, 1997).
The main focus of most pre-twentieth century theories of leadership was the monarch, or rulers of countries. Sun-Tzu's theories have already been described: clearly they relate to the idea of a war-lord, or leader with military capability, not the average equipment of the business leader. Rulers were also clearly the object of Machiavelli's work "The Prince"; in his theory, rulers are made great or weak through the popular perception of them: "Whenever men are discussed.they are noted for various qualities which earn them either praise or condemnation" (Machiavelli). In general, he believed