Transformational Leadership : John Burns

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Introduction The history of transformational leadership originated with the idea of “transforming leadership,” dubbed by leadership expert James Burns. Burns described transforming leadership as an interaction between leaders and followers so that they “raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality…” (Wren, 1995, p. 101). Burns’s colleague, Bernard Bass, formulated the theory of transformational leadership based on Burns’s original idea. The simple word change implies that leadership is a process rather than a state or condition. Transformational leadership, in its original and broadest conception, is when a leader inspires his or her followers to initiate social change, but Bass later narrowed the definition so that transformational leadership does not include charismatic leaders who direct their followers to perform immoral deeds. Unlike these “pseudotransformational leaders,” transformational leaders do not deceive their followers into completing destructive or opportunistic actions (Bass & Riggio, 2005, p. 6). As stated before, transformational leadership aims to bring a positive change in an organization itself or to a community outside the leader and followers. Additionally, transformational leadership is closely related to charismatic leadership, where leaders with appealing qualities such as humility and confidence emerge in a time of crisis or need (Redekop, 2015). The main difference between the two theories of leadership is that transformational
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