Leaders are born and not made. Great leaders will arise when there is a great need.
Individual free will is the most important influence on society.

Early research on leadership was based on the study of people who were already great leaders. These people were often from the aristocracy, as few from lower classes had the opportunity to lead. This contributed to the notion that leadership had something to do with breeding. The idea of the Great Man also strayed into mythic domain, with notions that in times of need, a Great Man would arise, almost by magic.

Event-Making Hero
Social change is based more on the individual than society. The individual actually can create change by creating a fork in the road. Hero’s create a fork in the road and create a new path for people to follow society.

This individual creates a fork in the road and blazes a new path, in other words they are doing something that has never been done before. This is someone that has a strong enough influence on people’s lives to create lifestyle changes. This person’s ideas or accomplishments have an influence on cultures all over the world. The event-making hero is similar to the great man, but do not fit the four criteria above as strongly as the “Great Man.”

Eventful Hero
Social influence determines behavior. Society has set up the context for the individual to lead. All the individual does is lead. This individual is a leader by chance and they create change through chance. This individual is not born a leader, in other words, they are not a leader because of their personality. Anyone could have filled this person’s role as a leader.

Someone else created the fork in the road and the path for this person to go down. This individual leads people down a path that has already been created before them. This person is a leader because society was ready for a change and ready for a new leader.

Social Determinism
Individuals are more influenced by environmental conditions than the actions of individuals. Environmental conditions include natural phenomenon; economic conditions; customs, beliefs and expectations; education and religion; technological development or interpersonal interactions of their social environment. Society rather than the individual is responsible for choices good or bad that individuals make.

Applying the Great Man Theory to historical or contemporary personalities

When deciding where a person may fit on the continuum, think about what society was like at the time he/she was famous. Did the person change history because of their personal characteristics, or would history have gone on in a similar way without this person?

Great Man Criteria: Use a scale of 0-to 5 to evaluate the individual’s accomplishments, legacy, influence, and impact.
0=not at all, 1=little effect, 2=short run, 3=moderate, 4=wide-spread, 5=long run

Great Man Criteria
2=short run
1=little effect
0=not at all




Individuals with high mostly 5’s should be placed close to Great Men; those with low scores near social determinism.

Great Man Continuum
Great ----------------------------------Event Making -------------------------------Eventful -------------------------------------Social
Men -------------------------------------Hero ------------------------------------------Hero ---------------------------------------Determinism