Between Great Men and Leadership: William James on the Importance of Individuals

In the 1880s, William James argued that individuals do make a difference in history, and that the study of influential people is a defensible academic pursuit. The literature on leadership today raises three distinct challenges to his position: (a) that everyone is a leader, (b) that no one is a leader, and (c) that leadership is self-leadership. To avoid confusion, educators should look closer at the arguments, not only for historical reasons. There are sound theoretical, conceptual, and psychological reasons, for teachers and students alike to look closer at his argument.