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In 1978, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning historian James MacGregor Burns published Leadership, a seminal book dealing with how leaders interact with society and through their efforts have the power to shape the course of history. The book became the basis for an emerging field of leadership studies that has been applied throughout the social sciences as well In 1978, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning historian James MacGregor Burns published Leadership, a seminal book dealing with how leaders interact with society and through their efforts have the power to shape the course of history. The book became the basis for an emerging field of leadership studies that has been applied throughout the social sciences as well as in business and government. Now Burns has returned to the subject, offering a new vision of leadership-Transforming Leadership-that focuses on the ways that leaders emerge from being ordinary "transactional" brokers and deal-makers to become real agents of major social change who empower their followers. Through the course of the book, Burns illuminates the evolution of leadership structures, from the chieftains of tribal African societies, through Europe's absolute monarchies, to the blossoming of the Enlightenment's views of liberty that came to fruition in the American Revolution. Along the way he looks at key moments in leadership, and the great leaders who made them, including Cleopatra, Elizabeth I, James Madison, Napoleon, Mao, Gandhi, and Mikhail Gorbachev. Part One: Change Chapter 1: The Mysteries of Leadership An introduction to Burns' concept of leadership-how leaders differ from tyrants, and transactional leaders from transforming leaders-and how this differs from other "Great Man" views of history. Chapter 2: Searching for the X-Factor Looking at his own studies of FDR and other leaders, Burns looks at how change emanates from society, and how this shapes community and society. Leadership is the "X-Factor" that brings change from concept to social reality. Part Two: Leaders Chapter 3: Kings and Queens, Knights and Pawns Using the game of chess as a metaphor for leadership action in monarchical society, Burns looks at the leadership systems of African tribes, and how monarchy evolved to the absolute model in post-Renaissance Europe, with a portrait of Elizabeth I's successful leadership during a turbulent period in English history. Chapter 4: Leaders as Planners A look at transforming leadership outside the political arena, including the building of the Suez and Panama Canals and Charles Eliot and the making of Harvard University into a world-renown institution. Part Three: Leadership Chapter 5: The Transformation of American Leadership A look at the American Revolutionary Period, and how leaders like Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison created the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that first brought to political life the 18th century enlightenment ideals of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness"-from the foundation of America's political culture to the formation of America's political parties. Chapter 6: France: Trials of Leadership How the French Revolution, begun in the spirit of "Libety, Equality, and Fraternity" spun out of control because of the leadership failures of men like Robespierre-and how it ultimately resulted in the military strongman Napoleon coming to power, with dire consequences for Europe. Chapter 7: Leadership as Conflict Burns argues that conflict is an essential component to getting beyond transactional leadership into transforming leadership-that ideals and ideas must clash to yield continuing and meaningful social change. He looks through the historical prism of the 19th century Tory Party's "Loyal Opposition" in Britain (to view its success) and Gorbachev's Perestroika and Glasnost initiatives of the 1980s (and why they failed). Part Four: People Chapter 8: The Anatomy of Motivation A look at the human causes behind the necessity for social change, what the great thinkers have had to say about it from Rousseau to Marx, and how wants become needs that create demands for change. Chapter 9: Creative Leadership From da Vinci to Einstein, the genius intellect has been able to transform our understanding of the world through his or her creative vision. Burns argues that creativity is an essential part of building coalitions and finding solutions for the problems we face, and profiles Gandhi's creative leadership in India against the British Empire as a prime example, as well as how societies can encourage the creativity necessary to foster positive change. Chapter 10: The Leader-Follower Paradox Presents the Burns Paradox: If leadership and followership are dynamically intertwined, is there really any way to begin understanding their interaction? He argues that leadership begins with the followers, whose wants and needs become expressed through the intervention of leaders who can articulate them. Burns explores this further through the prism of FDR's New Deal program and re-election effort in 1936. Chapter 11: Conflict: The Arming of Leadership Burns argues that great leaders seek out conflict, and how leaders from Martin Luther King Jr. to Nelson Mandela have created enduring change by engaging forthrightly in political conflict. PARTTTTTT FIVE: Transformation Chapter 12: The Power of Values Citing examples as diverse as Eleanor Roosevelt's championing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Avignon Papacy's enduring leadership of the Church following its exile from Rome, Burns shows how creating lasting values is the hallmark of enduring leadership. Chapter 13: The People, Yes? How intellectual and creative leaders must engage with the people to forge transformation in our society, including examples like the Tennessee Valley Authority. EPILOGUE: Global Poverty: Putting Leadership to Work In a provocative culmination of his examination of leadership, Burns proposes a leadership challenge to the foremost problem facing humanity in the 21st century: global poverty. He outlines an international UN-led initiative for a grass-roots campaign to promote development throughout the impoverished nations of the world, based on the successful model devised and operated to provide low-cost community healthcare in India.


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In 1978, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning historian James MacGregor Burns published Leadership, a seminal book dealing with how leaders interact with society and through their efforts have the power to shape the course of history. The book became the basis for an emerging field of leadership studies that has been applied throughout the social sciences as well In 1978, Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award-winning historian James MacGregor Burns published Leadership, a seminal book dealing with how leaders interact with society and through their efforts have the power to shape the course of history. The book became the basis for an emerging field of leadership studies that has been applied throughout the social sciences as well as in business and government. Now Burns has returned to the subject, offering a new vision of leadership-Transforming Leadership-that focuses on the ways that leaders emerge from being ordinary "transactional" brokers and deal-makers to become real agents of major social change who empower their followers. Through the course of the book, Burns illuminates the evolution of leadership structures, from the chieftains of tribal African societies, through Europe's absolute monarchies, to the blossoming of the Enlightenment's views of liberty that came to fruition in the American Revolution. Along the way he looks at key moments in leadership, and the great leaders who made them, including Cleopatra, Elizabeth I, James Madison, Napoleon, Mao, Gandhi, and Mikhail Gorbachev. Part One: Change Chapter 1: The Mysteries of Leadership An introduction to Burns' concept of leadership-how leaders differ from tyrants, and transactional leaders from transforming leaders-and how this differs from other "Great Man" views of history. Chapter 2: Searching for the X-Factor Looking at his own studies of FDR and other leaders, Burns looks at how change emanates from society, and how this shapes community and society. Leadership is the "X-Factor" that brings change from concept to social reality. Part Two: Leaders Chapter 3: Kings and Queens, Knights and Pawns Using the game of chess as a metaphor for leadership action in monarchical society, Burns looks at the leadership systems of African tribes, and how monarchy evolved to the absolute model in post-Renaissance Europe, with a portrait of Elizabeth I's successful leadership during a turbulent period in English history. Chapter 4: Leaders as Planners A look at transforming leadership outside the political arena, including the building of the Suez and Panama Canals and Charles Eliot and the making of Harvard University into a world-renown institution. Part Three: Leadership Chapter 5: The Transformation of American Leadership A look at the American Revolutionary Period, and how leaders like Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison created the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution that first brought to political life the 18th century enlightenment ideals of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness"-from the foundation of America's political culture to the formation of America's political parties. Chapter 6: France: Trials of Leadership How the French Revolution, begun in the spirit of "Libety, Equality, and Fraternity" spun out of control because of the leadership failures of men like Robespierre-and how it ultimately resulted in the military strongman Napoleon coming to power, with dire consequences for Europe. Chapter 7: Leadership as Conflict Burns argues that conflict is an essential component to getting beyond transactional leadership into transforming leadership-that ideals and ideas must clash to yield continuing and meaningful social change. He looks through the historical prism of the 19th century Tory Party's "Loyal Opposition" in Britain (to view its success) and Gorbachev's Perestroika and Glasnost initiatives of the 1980s (and why they failed). Part Four: People Chapter 8: The Anatomy of Motivation A look at the human causes behind the necessity for social change, what the great thinkers have had to say about it from Rousseau to Marx, and how wants become needs that create demands for change. Chapter 9: Creative Leadership From da Vinci to Einstein, the genius intellect has been able to transform our understanding of the world through his or her creative vision. Burns argues that creativity is an essential part of building coalitions and finding solutions for the problems we face, and profiles Gandhi's creative leadership in India against the British Empire as a prime example, as well as how societies can encourage the creativity necessary to foster positive change. Chapter 10: The Leader-Follower Paradox Presents the Burns Paradox: If leadership and followership are dynamically intertwined, is there really any way to begin understanding their interaction? He argues that leadership begins with the followers, whose wants and needs become expressed through the intervention of leaders who can articulate them. Burns explores this further through the prism of FDR's New Deal program and re-election effort in 1936. Chapter 11: Conflict: The Arming of Leadership Burns argues that great leaders seek out conflict, and how leaders from Martin Luther King Jr. to Nelson Mandela have created enduring change by engaging forthrightly in political conflict. PARTTTTTT FIVE: Transformation Chapter 12: The Power of Values Citing examples as diverse as Eleanor Roosevelt's championing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Avignon Papacy's enduring leadership of the Church following its exile from Rome, Burns shows how creating lasting values is the hallmark of enduring leadership. Chapter 13: The People, Yes? How intellectual and creative leaders must engage with the people to forge transformation in our society, including examples like the Tennessee Valley Authority. EPILOGUE: Global Poverty: Putting Leadership to Work In a provocative culmination of his examination of leadership, Burns proposes a leadership challenge to the foremost problem facing humanity in the 21st century: global poverty. He outlines an international UN-led initiative for a grass-roots campaign to promote development throughout the impoverished nations of the world, based on the successful model devised and operated to provide low-cost community healthcare in India.

30 review for Transforming Leadership

  1. 4 out of 5

    James

    This is one of those books that turns out to be far different from what you expect. When I got to the part where the author thought Woodrow Wilson was a strong and visionary leader at the Versailles, I wondered, what planet has this guy been living on??? Hasn't he read anything by JM Keynes about that event? I'm sure he has, but decided to write his own version of history. Here's a sample: Still more has been told about the president's statecraft at Versailles in the first months of 1919 as he ha This is one of those books that turns out to be far different from what you expect. When I got to the part where the author thought Woodrow Wilson was a strong and visionary leader at the Versailles, I wondered, what planet has this guy been living on??? Hasn't he read anything by JM Keynes about that event? I'm sure he has, but decided to write his own version of history. Here's a sample: Still more has been told about the president's statecraft at Versailles in the first months of 1919 as he hammered out a peace treaty and postwar plans with the other Allied leaders, and about his alleged stubbornness and rigidity in dealing both with his fellow heads of state in Paris and with his adversaries back in Washington." bla bla bla Everyone else says Wilson was ineffectual in standing up to the French & British, a dottering fool not far from death. Who do you want to believe? Another book like this, and I'll add a non-fiction novel shelve.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Geni

    I read this book for my transformational leadership class in grad school. I'm sure this guy is quite the historian, but the way he approached the historical examples he examined seemed very self-indulgent and his treatment of the subject material too pedestrian. His perspective was frustratingly ethnocentric, citing American exceptionalism, and was relatively dismissive of the leadership contributions of other cultures and nations. I found later chapters about political parties and the fluidity I read this book for my transformational leadership class in grad school. I'm sure this guy is quite the historian, but the way he approached the historical examples he examined seemed very self-indulgent and his treatment of the subject material too pedestrian. His perspective was frustratingly ethnocentric, citing American exceptionalism, and was relatively dismissive of the leadership contributions of other cultures and nations. I found later chapters about political parties and the fluidity of a leader-follower dynamic to be much more helpful and well founded though.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marjorie.harris

    if you are thinking of leading... anyone... in school, your community, your church... you must read this...

  4. 4 out of 5

    Tyler

    This book had some really interesting ideas about leadership. Many leadership books I have read have been focused on examining leadership through the lens of either business management or a more abstract theoretical/academic frame of reference. This books frame of reference is drawn more from history and politics and the role that leadership plays in creating transformational change in democratic societies. This unusual frame of reference was very helpful for me to consider leadership from a dif This book had some really interesting ideas about leadership. Many leadership books I have read have been focused on examining leadership through the lens of either business management or a more abstract theoretical/academic frame of reference. This books frame of reference is drawn more from history and politics and the role that leadership plays in creating transformational change in democratic societies. This unusual frame of reference was very helpful for me to consider leadership from a different and valuable perspective. I will need more time to fully ponder and digest his message.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Sergio Lopez

    Written by the father of formal leadership studies, Transforming Leadership provides a foundation for a general theory of leadership which makes a distinction between transactional and transforming leadership. As a political historian, he draws on stories of leaders, movements, and revolutions from the past to understand the anatomy of social transformation. A must read book for those seeking to exercise leadership for social change.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Rob

    The major take-away: transformational leaders empower their followers by addressing their followers' needs, often by casting these needs as values. Transformational leaders thus motivate their followers. This is in contrast to transactional leaders, who focus on making deals. The major take-away: transformational leaders empower their followers by addressing their followers' needs, often by casting these needs as values. Transformational leaders thus motivate their followers. This is in contrast to transactional leaders, who focus on making deals.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Adam E

    This book started great with a philosophical background of the concept of leadership, then just never seemed to build on that or go anywhere.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mel

    James MacGregor Burns, pulitzer prize winner has produced another winner! This is an easy read where Burns produces a thesis focused on how the truly great leaders are transformers. They mobilize and respond to followers and create changes that are real, deep, comprehensive, durable, grounded in values. I was especially interested in Thomas Jefferson, and how his writing of the Declaration of Independence was a great example of the how great IDEAs can be written that portrays the needs and ideas James MacGregor Burns, pulitzer prize winner has produced another winner! This is an easy read where Burns produces a thesis focused on how the truly great leaders are transformers. They mobilize and respond to followers and create changes that are real, deep, comprehensive, durable, grounded in values. I was especially interested in Thomas Jefferson, and how his writing of the Declaration of Independence was a great example of the how great IDEAs can be written that portrays the needs and ideas of the colonists succinctly.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Stephen

    READ JUN 2010 Excellent use of history and global political leaders to illustrate effective transformational leadership. The ideas presented are applicable to all organizations regardless of type, size or location. Best quote, "No one is more arresting than the person who breaks through his confining environment, seizes opportunities, overcomes all obstacles, and changes how the rest of us perceive, think, and act" (pp. 153-154). READ JUN 2010 Excellent use of history and global political leaders to illustrate effective transformational leadership. The ideas presented are applicable to all organizations regardless of type, size or location. Best quote, "No one is more arresting than the person who breaks through his confining environment, seizes opportunities, overcomes all obstacles, and changes how the rest of us perceive, think, and act" (pp. 153-154).

  10. 4 out of 5

    Eric

    Easy listening in one sense, on a subject that gets a lot of press with far too little comprehension. And it isn't like there are not more and more books on the subject all the time. The paragraphs on Maslow took me back a few years. There are probably other more modern titles on 'transforming leadership' that can clue you in, but this one may be what you're after. Easy listening in one sense, on a subject that gets a lot of press with far too little comprehension. And it isn't like there are not more and more books on the subject all the time. The paragraphs on Maslow took me back a few years. There are probably other more modern titles on 'transforming leadership' that can clue you in, but this one may be what you're after.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nicole Marble

    Burns is a professor and this book reads like a long classroom lecture - a very good lecture! Addressed in detail is the nitty gritty of just how the U.S. Constitution got to be what it is, and it wasn't easy! Also seen in detail is the French Revolution and its violence followed by other constitutions as the French tried to get it right. And other ramblings about American politics. Burns is a professor and this book reads like a long classroom lecture - a very good lecture! Addressed in detail is the nitty gritty of just how the U.S. Constitution got to be what it is, and it wasn't easy! Also seen in detail is the French Revolution and its violence followed by other constitutions as the French tried to get it right. And other ramblings about American politics.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Sam Motes

    More historic than I anticipated rather than on focusing on leadership traits but I should have known that by the author being Burns who is a renowned historian. It was a good synopsis of each leader in a mini biographic style. The discussion of why Hitler may have been a strong dictator who molded the will of his people but he was not a strong leader. Interesting read.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Bjørn Peterson, PhD

    Not an easy read but excellent content.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Tracy

  15. 4 out of 5

    Benjie Baker

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kelli

  17. 5 out of 5

    John Harrison

  18. 5 out of 5

    Adrienne Blaine

  19. 5 out of 5

    Brad

  20. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn Treadwell

  21. 5 out of 5

    Kingsley Brainerd Binglah

  22. 5 out of 5

    Miles Sandgathe

  23. 5 out of 5

    John

  24. 4 out of 5

    NATHAN S HARWOOD

  25. 5 out of 5

    Fred Leland

  26. 5 out of 5

    Bret Hunter

  27. 4 out of 5

    Corey

  28. 4 out of 5

    Anthony

  29. 5 out of 5

    Devin

  30. 5 out of 5

    GummyPenguin

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