Book Review: Author's Theory Basic Ideas

Pages: 3 (1374 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  Level: Doctorate  ·  Topic: Leadership  ·  Buy This Paper

¶ … Leadership by James MacGregor Burns

In Leadership, James MacGregor Burns (1978) addressed the basic idea of the leadership role, and how each person who is placed into that role can find his or her own way of becoming (and remaining) effective. Because leadership is very different depending on the type of organization being led and the people who make up that organization, leaders must consider all facets of leadership rather than simply choosing a style and blindly trying to follow it, even if it doesn't seem to be working very well. Unfortunately, too many leaders do not realize that they can change their leadership style, and the must change their leadership style, in order to be more efficient, more effective, and more successful. Once a leader realizes this, he can choose between different kinds of leadership so that the style he's using meshes well with the community or organization in which he is trying to lead.

The main theory that Burns (1978) offers is that of transformational leadership. Up until he brought his theory to light most, if not all, leaders were following the path of transactional leadership, which is far different. It is clear that Burns' book is definitive when it comes to leadership styles and information. It is densely packed with historical facts, quite long, and full of a lot of insights that other leadership books just do not seem to have. For anyone who wants to be a leadership scholar and a success in that area, Burns' book should be essential reading. Few other books have that designation. While not everyone will agree on what the book has to offer, the information that was presented by Burns back in 1978 is still quite relevant to the way that people must address leadership issues today.

One of the things that Burns (1978) does so well is to make a distinction between executive leadership and intellectual leadership. He even takes the time to address the circumstances that surround these two different kinds of leadership styles and why one may be 'created' in a person over another style based on the way that person adapts to what is taking place around him. Burn's (1978) book is not designed as a "how to" when it comes to leadership. Instead, it provides anyone who reads it with a good framework to further understanding of the role of being a leader. It also addresses the requirements that a leadership role involves, depending on the style of leadership, how many people are being led, and other factors. Any reader can find a satisfying and very exciting moment when he or she comes across his or her own leadership role or style during the reading of the book.

With transformational leadership - sometimes also called transforming leadership - Burns (1978) shows that he understands the difference between what he has named and the previous discussions of transactional leadership. Transactional leadership is different because it works on the premise that each encounter between the leader and the follower is an isolated incident. With transformational leadership there is more of a trend toward servant leadership, which involves a more cohesive desire to work together, as opposed to only leading when a specific situation requires it (Benson, 1994). Leadership is always changing with the times, but the basic premise of it remains the same. When individuals lead by example and lead with compassion, they appear to have more followers and those followers are more dedicated, because they feel as though they are part of the process and the cohesiveness of the unit (Benson, 1994).

Even readers who only read the introductory chapters will find a lot of great information on leadership. To really get the entire gist of what Burns (1978) is trying to say, however, one must read the whole book. This is because Burns (1978) moves through a sweeping assessment of leadership based on its purpose and its power. It is an extremely comprehensive piece of literature, and does not stop at simply talking about the differences between transformational (servant) leadership and transactional (situational) leadership. Many other leadership books address those… [END OF PREVIEW]

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