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The Value of History in Leadership

Defining Leadership in a short and concise manner is next to impossible.  The word has developed over the years, and in many places did not even exist until just a few hundred years ago.  Bernard M. Bass emphasizes the sophisticated nature of the word, and he helped show me why we have leadership studies courses here.  There are many ways in which people throughout history try to define leadership, and  this little article makes me wonder if we can correctly identify the word, and if certain groups see different meanings in the same word.


Bass drives home one of his central arguments that history presents a variety of types of leaders, but the study of Leadership is more than just history.  Leadership Studies is a deeper and more extensive look into society and how leadership is created and executed.  Although leadership studies is much more than just learning about leaders, the value of learning the past should not be diminished.  Thousands of years of history books help to expand our knowledge of what makes a “good” leader, and with the knowledge of the past hopefully we can build a better future led by educated people that also understand the pieces of leadership that can not be understood by reading about previous leaders.

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  1. Tess Keating Tess Keating

    After reading Bass’s article, “Meaning of Leadership”, I had similar thoughts. Thinking upon some of even the most well respected leaders, there are always people who disagree with them, making it impossible to ever really be the “perfect” leader. I like how you connected Bass’s argument about leadership being so complex to why UR has so many classes in Leadership Studies (unlike many other universities).

  2. Christina Glynn Christina Glynn

    I agree especially with the point that throughout history there has been a variety of leaders. I find this interesting because I feel that the role of a leader as well as what defines a “good” leader has changed throughout different time periods in society.

  3. Jack Kirkpatrick Jack Kirkpatrick

    Great work, Alexander. After reading, I agree with you in that it’s hard to define leadership, and would continue that by stating each individual leader creates his/her own definition of the word by the way they make decisions, council and support followers, and simply the way they carry themselves i.e. character. I would slightly disagree with the comment “what makes a GOOD leader” simply because I believe each individual has their own opinion on how one should lead. Ex. Some may like to be counseled before a decision, others may just like to be told. Thanks! Great post

  4. Olivia Cosco Olivia Cosco

    I really like how you highlight the importance of having knowledge of the past in order to be a better leader. I completely agree with you and feel like a main takeaway from all three of our readings was this exactly.

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