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Tough Calls by Linda D. Henman

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CHAPTER 7

Everybody with a Coin to Toss Is Not a Leader

The “great man” theory surfaced in the 19th century to explain leadership throughout history: Heroes possessing charisma, intelligence, wisdom, and power had created history. No theory escapes criticism, however, and detractors of this one surfaced quickly. According to critics, attributing historical events to the decisions of individuals—these supposedly “great men”—was both primitive and unscientific. As these theorists explained, “great men” were simply products of their social environments.

In the 21st century, we realize we still need great men and women, but we can’t count on them to unleash their greatness in a vacuum. Instead, we need to redefine our language—to explain success ...

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