Throughout “Concepts of Leadership” Bernard M. Bass examines what forms of leadership have appeared throughout history in terms of time period and physical location as well as how different cultures viewed leaders. He uses the term “Purposeful Stories” to describe the way that leaders are remembered as time passes. It is interesting to think how a single decision made by a leader could be the basis of their entire legacy or the “stories” future people tell about them. The fact that leaders, at one point in time, were remembered solely through stories gives many historical figures a sort of legendary ambiance that amplifies their accomplishments to an unattainable height.
It seems that throughout all points and places in history, great leaders were admired for their similar qualities and the positive effect they had on their followers. However, it seems the definition of what is a “great” leader has evolved with time through the changing of standards by the general public as well as the creation of new philosophical ideas. According to Bass, early leaders mentioned in the Old and New testament fell into categories such as “prophests, priests, chiefs, and kings”. While these figures were meant to demonstrate qualities that the entire population could employ to improve society as a whole, none of them were elected officials, but rather came into power through other means. These means included religious appointments, a matter of blood right, or possibly both as can be seen with the belief in divine right to rule held within many monarchies. By today’s standards these leaders would be considered completely unjust and unfit to rule. It can be unfair to judge the leaders of the past by modern standards as it is highly possible that the leaders of today will be looked down upon by future generations. Looking at both the positive and negative qualities of past forms of leadership should alter the decisions we as a society make about who we put in charge as well as how leaders choose to lead. This is especially important as today in many places the people determine who is in power, instead of some other factor.