James Macgregor Burns Transformational Leadership Model

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In 1978, James MacGregor Burns, a renowned political theorist, penned an innovative grand theory of leadership that informed political strategy and governance for late 20th-century leaders. His seminal work, Leadership, enumerates the core principles of social psychology and political science that influence effective leadership. Psychoanalysis, motivation, and personal drives shape his theoretical framework. Why does conflict-theory impact politics? How do leaders convey a vision and mobilize support for it? Why do formative childhood experiences affect one’s political ideology and leadership style? While Burns’ normative values of leadership subtly guide this text, he primarily focuses his core analysis on the empirical effectiveness of…show more content…
Meanwhile, transformational leadership focuses on the values and needs of followers, organizing them, and actualizing their values. Both of these visions of political leadership confront points of conflict. Transformational leaders, such as Mao Zedong, acknowledge that “commitment, persistence, and self-abnegation” are crucial in their efforts to maintain their vision of revolutionary leadership and achieve their lofty goals. Meanwhile, transactional leaders, such President Franklin D. Roosevelt, balance “bargaining, persuading, and reciprocating” with other political actors at a large-scale. James MacGregor Burns’ theory of transactional leadership is built on the premise that calculated leadership, not conscientious leadership, drives effective governance. According to Burns, “for the marketplace is just that—a mart. It is a place of quick connections and quick fixes. The moods and styles are quick; they assure reciprocity, flexibility, substitutability of buyers and sellers, volatility of relationships. Relationships are dominated by quick calculations of cost-benefits." Political expediency drives politics. In this view, politics becomes a zero-sum game. Decision-making is based on winning votes, appealing to constituents, and building party alliances. However, a tension arises within this framework of opinion-based transactional leadership. Which mode of leadership should a statesman strive for? Should a statesman
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