The process of evaluating historical aspects of leadership involved critically analyzing the commonalities and disparities among a group of influential leaders, such as Thomas Carlyle, Mohandas Gandhi, Niccolo Machiavelli and W.E.B Du Bois. Carlyle (1795-1881), a Scottish historian emphasized the importance of heroism that required men to be subordinated to the commander of men (Wren, 1995 p.53). Further analysis of the evaluation revealed theories of Gandhi and Machiavelli which produced evidence of conflicting viewpoints on the topic of violence among historical leaders throughout the ages. Gandhi‘s leadership style was against any acts of violence. He focused on using spiritual guidance to solve problems. Machiavelli’s leadership style believed in having mercy but also defending yourself if necessary. W.E.B Du Bois’s leadership style focused on educating black men to be great leaders.
Each leader’s theories on the quality of acceptable leadership were different, yet acceptable in their communities, however, each leader presented various methods of effective leadership abilities, which will influence other leaders as they develop their theories.
Commonalities and Disparities
Thomas Carlyle, believed that the commander of men was superior, and all men were to be subordinated. Carlyle focused on the theory that leaders who exhibited themselves in a dignified manner embodied the qualities of a great leader (Carlyle, 1795-1881; Wren, 1995, p.53). Carlyle also emphasized that heroism existed in whoever embodied the spiritual qualities of a commander. Further examination of Carlyle’s leadership theory revealed that he believed that a leader who is a nobleman can be trusted by all people (Carlyle, 1795-1881; Wren, 1995, p.53). Niccolo Machiavelli’s theory of a leader was described as someone who can lead men whether they abided by or disobey the law.
Machiavelli also believed that leaders who can establish authority can be merciful, humane, but cautious. Mohandas Gandhi theory believed leaders should operate using self- control and discipline. Gandhi also described a powerful leader as someone who uses passive resistance (Gandhi, 1869-1984; Machiavelli, 1469-1527; Wren, 1995, p.68 &75). Finally W.E.B Du Bois was an advocate for educating black men, and he placed great emphasize on how education involved the training of one’s mind, body and surroundings (Du Bois, 1868-1963; Wren, 1995, p.78). Du Bois theory on learning is that people can be influenced by their surrounds and motivated by different groups of people.
After completing the commonalities and disparities involving three great leaders my critical evaluation has led me to the conclusion that even though these leaders embody the characteristic to be excellent facilitators and commanders, each leader lacks the ability to use effective communication skills. Previous research has suggested that the lack of communication can be confusing, misunderstanding and lethal. For example, Emperor Frederick 13th century ruler of the Holy Roman Empire conducted research to determine what language mankind had spoken at birth. The experiment involved isolating infants from hearing any communication until they spoke their first words. However, as a result of the experiment the babies died (Samata, 2012).
Further studies have concluded that leaders who implement communication skills can establish their existence and define their image, but leaders who fail to communicate effectively and positively, risk damaging their reputation (Samata, 2012). Effective leadership requires leaders to be competent communicators, which is achieved by using clear and concise communication (Adubato, 2010). Furthermore, leaders who can use communication skills effectively, are able to comprehend and express ideas (Ringer, 2002; Tareq, 2008).
Achieving effective oral communication skills requires leaders to limit words and phrases, which results in explaining their concepts and ideas. Levinson also states, leaders who use too many words have a tendency to ramble about non-relevant issues, however summarizing the main points, staying focused and avoiding distractions helps leaders discipline what information is relevant, resulting in translating their thoughts into a profitable action faster (1968). Effective communication requires leaders to be prepared, organized and observant, giving leaders the ability to execute their message successfully (Showry & Manasa, 2012).
By evaluating the leadership styles of historical leaders, I was able to understand how their theories influenced people throughout the ages. Carlyle, Gandhi, Machiavelli, and DuBois were all very influential leaders during their times in history. However, after comparing their similarities and disparities in theory and style, it is apparent that Carlyle viewpoints on what a great leader should be is entirely different from the perspectives of Gandhi, Machiavelli, and DuBois. Carlyle emphasized that all men should being entirely subordinate to their commander, and Gandhi believed in spirituality and taught leaders to focus on positive concepts.
Machiavelli used a more drastic approach that required him to be prudent, be observant and maintain authority. Du Bois believed that black men should be educated. Further observation revealed that, even though, each leader embodied leadership qualities, using effective communication skills are essential to providing leaders with better communication technique, making the message clear and concise. Leaders have the ability to achieve effective communication skills by limiting their words and stating the main facts. Finally leaders who can improve communication skills, can empower people, and maintain stability.
Adubato, S. (2010). Communication is key to effective office team building. NJBIZ, 23(27), 9. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/644992473?accountid=35812 Levinson, R. E. (1968). How to get through to people. Industrial Management, 10(5), 11.
Ringer, R. (2002, Jul 28). Communication skills valued by employers. Pantagraph Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/252480712?accountid=35812 Tareq, N. A. (2008, Mar 06). Affective communication skills. Yemen Times Retrieved from
http://search.proquest.com/docview/429795478?accountid=35812 Samata, P. (2012). Importance of Effective Communication Skills. Language In India, 12(10), 333-341. Showry, M., & Manasa, K. (2012). Effective Communication for Professional Excellence. IUP Journal of Soft Skills, 6(1), 39-46.
Wren, J. T. (1995). The Leader’s Companion: Insight on leadership through the ages. Carlyle, T. The Hero as King (pp.53-54) New York, NY: The Free Press.
Wren, J. T. (1995). The Leader’s Companion: Insight on leadership through the ages. Du Bois, W .E.B. The Talented Tenth (pp.78-80) New York, NY: The Free Press.
Wren, J. T. (1995). The Leader’s Companion: Insight on leadership through the ages. Gandhi, M. Satyagraha (pp.72-77) New York, NY: The Free Press.
Wren, J. T. (1995). The Leader’s Companion: Insight on leadership through the ages. Machiavelli, N. How Princes Should Keep Faith (pp.67-68) New York, NY: The Free Press.
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Topic: Evaluating Historical Views of Leadership
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