The Paradox and Perception of Great Leadership

Document Type


Publication Date



Medicine and Health Sciences


It is so easy to recall great leaders. When we think of the leaders in our lives there is always something about those people that draws us to them. History remembers great leaders, but it doesn't necessarily remember great people. Adolf Hitler was single handedly one of the most influential and compelling leaders of all time. He successfully manipulated an entire army of people to believe what he believed. Tremendous leaders have a way of building trust with others that is unlike any other. We forget that people like Adolf Hitler were great leaders because today's perception of leadership is so focused on what we want our leaders to be, rather than who they actually are. There is an overwhelming paradox between what it means to be a great leader and what it means to be a good person. Our research examines how society perceives leaders and what that "it" factor is that leaders use to captivate people and change who they are. A literature review was conducted to explore compelling leadership qualities and the perception behind what leadership entails. The USD and EBSCOhost databases were utilized to obtain peer-reviewed and scholarly journal articles. The results indicate that the reality of leadership isn't always what we perceive, especially when authenticity is considered. Further studies researching the dynamic between what it means to lead as a result of being a good person, versus simply having the qualities of a leader, are suggested.

First Advisor

Becky Wolff

Research Area

Health Sciences

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