Leadership: Fifty Great Leaders and the Worlds They Made

Leadership: Fifty Great Leaders and the Worlds They Made

Leadership: Fifty Great Leaders and the Worlds They Made

Leadership: Fifty Great Leaders and the Worlds They Made

Synopsis

What makes a leader? Is it his or her background and training, or perhaps ideology or beliefs? Do leader possess exceptional drive for changing the world for good -- or, in some cases, evil? One can learn much from the mistakes and triumphs of some of the greatest leaders who ever lived as presented in "Leadership: Fifty Great Leaders and the Worlds They Made." This reference resource examines the accomplishments of famed leaders - both men and women - in areas such as politics, military affairs, business, religion, the arts, and the sciences. The book is an excellent source for those looking for an introduction to learning about leadership and case studies that illustrate leadership in action.

"Leadership" provides the tools and content to help students form their own opinions about the eternal questions surrounding the mystery of successful leadership by revealing the true stories behind the great leaders of history.

Excerpt

People have always been fascinated with the topic of leadership. Many of the canonical great books of the western tradition are about leaders and how they wielded power for good or for bad. Plato, Confucius, Machiavelli, Hobbes, and untold others have attempted to nail the proverbial jelly to the wall by defining the nature of leadership and its relation to society. A whole book could in fact be written about how the ultimate book—the Bible—is but an extended commentary on the nature of leadership in divine and human form. How might we define leadership? Harry Truman helps us. As he said, “Leadership is the ability to get people to do what they don’t want to do and like it.” More prosaically, we might say that leadership is a “process whereby an individual influences a group of individuals to achieve a common goal.”

With the rise of Enlightenment thought in the eighteenth century came the attempt to apply reason and scientific concepts to topics that had previously been explained in theological or belletristic terms. For much of the twentieth century, the social sciences of political science, psychology, and leadership studies have had much to say in terms of attempting to craft general theories and models of leadership. History’s role in this process has usually been to serve as a passive data bank to be raided by such social science disciplines and their theorizing ambitions. As we shall see, the new leadership studies are increasingly sensitive to the historian’s focus on the uniqueness of each great leader’s story.

What have the social sciences contributed toward an understanding of great leadership? Early in the twentieth century, the study of common traits that leaders shared was the main concern. The goal of such studies was to find correlations between such variables as intelligence, appearance, height, etc. and leadership. Such studies went against the cultural grain of American democracy by seeming deterministic in suggesting that great leaders are born and not made. One either had the requisite characteristic or one did not. The behaviorist . . .

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