Why Historical Theories on Leadership Are Not Predictive

Why Historical Theories on Leadership Are Not Predictive

Throughout history, mankind has tried to select leaders who best met the exigencies of the society’s current needs. Often this was the strongest. Sometimes the wisest. Sometimes the one born into the right family, or who married into the right family, whoever obtained the most money or had the largest ships – or so many other essentially irrelevant criteria. From all of this, others tried to determine the styles, languages, attributes, modes, or so many other things that, while sometimes interesting, only touched on the edges of what leadership really is.

Trait Theory

One popular theory is the trait theory. Even in the bible it is clear that King Saul was selected from all of the young men of Israel because he was that tallest and most handsome. As Saul proved, however, the trait theory has nothing predictive to say about leadership. Even today, in elections, the taller candidate tends to win more often than they should statistically. Where has that gotten us?

So Many Theories

As advanced as our society is today, it is somewhat astonishing that we still have not really figured out how to develop and select the best leaders. From the earliest days of “might makes right” through leadership theories of trait, behavior, contingency, situational, and continuing to today where theories of influence (such as transformational and servant-leader) are popular, we have struggled to define and understand leadership.

None of the Theories Work

Our historical perspectives have not helped us understand how to conduct successful leadership development, and, consequently, have not shown us how to select sustained leaders for leadership positions. (Just look around!)

Free Webinar

The second in our free webinar series talks specifically about this history and why Sustained Leadership WBS provides a guide that will help you progress on your personal leadership journey. The goal, as always, is to help you to become the best possible version of yourself.  As a result, it will better prepare you to recognize the building blocks that are the foundation of your own leadership abilities and opportunities. As a sustained leader, you will be better prepared to share these insights with your team, as you, and they, collectively work to develop new leaders.

View this free webinar here.

With an extensive career in government contracting, Tom has found many examples, both good and bad, of leadership. These posts are based on his latest book, Sustained Leadership WBS, published by Morgan James. Tom is available to speak to your team on the importance of developing sustained leaders.


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