‘What was leadership?’ is concerned with leadership in the past. Our knowledge of leadership in ancient times is crucially dependent upon the existence of written texts, but these accounts do not contain facts; they are partial accounts intended to achieve a particular purpose. From these accounts, though, it is clear that war was a critical component in the early developments of leadership. Classical leadership studies are considered through Sun Tzu's The Art of War and Plato's Republic. Macchiavelli's The Prince provides an insight into Renaissance leadership studies and modern studies begin with the work of Thomas Carlyle. Normative and rational leadership models and patterns of leadership are also discussed.