There's an old historical saying......."Does the man make the times or do the times make the man?"
In our contemporary history and historiography, The (now dismissed and largely discredited), "Great Man Theory of History"-(originated by Thomas Carlyle), was, in a way, a reading and studying of History through a biographical-(almost Plutarchian) lens. That is to say, History, had been determined and impacted solely by "Great" historical figures, such as certain Generals, Statesmen, Inventors, Scientists, Artists, Religious Leaders and Philosophers. In a way, (despite the rabidly leftist history and historiography that has been produced over the past 25 plus years), Carlyle's (allegedly) anachronistic "Great Man" Theory may not be so implausible-(Of course, it all depends on how one defines, "Great". Alexander III of Macedon was and is still described as, "Great", whereas Ivan was and is still described as, "The Terrible". Even Attila is referred to as, "The Hun", which did not, nor does it exactly connote a complimentary meaning. So again, it all depends on how one defines, "Great" and /or "Greatness").
The opposite reading of Carlyle's "Great Man of History", would probably consist of 2 socio-historical schools of thought, very much to the left of center:
The older Marxist school-(which originally emanated from the earlier Hegelian school, though Hegel's Dialectics were quite distinct from Marxian Dialectics), has been one of the more popular approaches towards historical study, writing and research within the West since the mid 1960's-(and perhaps earlier).
The Marxist approach towards History is predicated on the idea of class struggle; a uniting of working peoples to determine the future outcome of society and civilization through a radical campaign of depersonalization and deindivdiualization, followed by the dissolution of the Corporate class and the State, as a way achieving the Greater and collective virtue of universal equality. In other words, people, not individuals, communities and not leaders, catalyze the historical, as well the unfolding of events.
The 2nd and more recent school of thought, is Post-Modernism, founded and popularized by the French Philosopher and Social Critic, Michele Foucault. Although Foucault wrote most of his major works during the 1960's, his intellectual legacy would come a generation or so later, better known as "Political Correctness". Michelle Foucault may not have been directly responsible for the onslaught of Political Correctness, unfortunately though, his writings were very influential.
The essence of Post-Modernism and indeed, Post-Modern thinking is that the concept of truth does not exist. That the traditionally defined properties and categories of knowledge are not universally provable, but instead, are of relative consequence. Therefore, there is no Objectivity, nor is there a meaningful search or exposition of evidence, because such a search and such an assumption do not exist.
With regard to historiography, Post-Modernism-(and its rabidly righteous twin, Political Correctness), has been the dominant and encompassing approach towards the research, writing and teaching of history at the secondary, college and graduate levels within the United States for the past 25 plus years. It is a philosophy and social movement that is to the left of Marxism!-(if one can imagine that).
However, both Marxist and Post-Modern historiographies, share one thing in common, a mutual contempt for individuality and a centralization-(even a romanticizing) of the collective and the group dynamic. For Marxists and Post-Modernists, individuals have never determined historical outcomes, it has always been progressed, advanced and determined by an activist populace and citizenry.
To the Marxists and Post-Modernists, NEITHER "the man makes the times, nor the times make the man", because man, that is to say, the individual is either, an elitist or the individual does not exist because the very notion of an individual is the product of a social construction. Either way, the loss of historical individuality has been central to both of these above mentioned movements..........(and they are winning to this day).