Are the Great Man Theory and Trait Theory still relevant in Contemporary Society?

Peer Leader: Stafford McLean

Often times we are taught many theories and the thoughts that run through our heads are: why am I learning this? Is it even relevant in my life? Is it even relevant in modern society? Two theories we will ask these questions about are the Great Man Theory and Trait Theory. The Great Man Theory of leadership asserts that leaders in general and great leaders in particular are born and not made However the Trait Theory argues that leadership qualities or traits can be acquired. They are not always inborn.

In examining these theories and contemporary society in which we live in, we immediately see a problem. The concept of Great Man Theory is very old, Stone Age beliefs. However, some persons will probably hold true to some of those beliefs and find the Great Man Theory relevant to contemporary society. On the contrary, some might argue that the Great Man Theory is irrelevant. Let’s pretend that my last name was Luther king and I was the grandson of Martin Luther king and I stepped forward to bring about a change. Wouldn’t you listen to what I have to say quicker than if my last name is John Brown? If my last name is Seaga and I am the son of Edward Seaga, wouldn’t I get into a political career much easier? Could it be that we subconsciously believe in born leaders?

However, those who find it irrelevant might disagree and say that even kings who are heir to a throne got formal training and were socialized to be leaders. Princes don’t just sit around and go on vacations daily. They need to get formal training at times in the army. Some might argue that the Trait Theory is relevant. After all, if we can identify certain leadership traits that successful leaders have, we might be able to become successful leaders by adopting these traits. Furthermore, we might be able to avoid the traits of unsuccessful leaders and teach persons to be effective leaders.

Trait Theory can also be seen as irrelevant, traits do not guarantee that you will be a successful or even a good leader. Moreover, the lists of trait are really wide. How do we know which trait is more important to be known. There are more modern and advanced theories on leadership.

So are these theories still relevant? You tell me!

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