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Transforming Leadership: The Pursuit of Happiness Hardcover – February, 2003


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Atlantic Monthly Press; First Edition edition (February 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0871138662
  • ISBN-13: 978-0871138668
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.2 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #395,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Twenty-five years after the publication of Leadership, Burns expands upon his theories about how leaders cultivate their successors to explore how they create environments conducive to social and personal development. He distinguishes between "transactional" leaders, who thrive on cutting deals, and "transforming" leaders, whose sweeping changes totally revamp political institutions. Although the book relies on a variety of historical examples, it devotes particular attention to Franklin Roosevelt, about whom Burns has written extensively in the past (The Lion and the Fox; The Soldier of Freedom). Burns's underlying theory imagines leadership as part of a broader social process in which leaders and followers are closely interrelated. Starting with psychologist Abraham Maslow's theories of the hierarchy of human needs, the book suggests leaders attain their power through their responsiveness to others' desires for security, self-esteem and personal development, putting themselves in a position to "create and expand the opportunities that empower people to pursue happiness for themselves." As such, leadership is an inherently positive process, distinguishable from tyranny by the latter's inability to promote liberty and equality. Amusing asides, in which Burns describes how he attempted to apply his understanding of leadership principles to raising his children, enliven the scholarly consideration of leadership's evolution over the centuries. These accessible anecdotes, as well as Burns's explications of historical examples, will ensure the book's influence extends beyond its most obvious implications for political science.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Burns continues to study the art of leadership in this new examination of what he calls transitional leadership. Taking into account Jefferson's famous words, Burns states that the most successful leaders are those who are conscious of the pursuit of happiness. But what exactly is the pursuit of happiness? Burns believes it begins with the basic human necessities of food and shelter and includes the desire for dignity and respect. Some leaders are just deal makers and opportunists for a select group, but the author defines transitional leaders as those who aim "for the protection and nourishing of happiness, for extending the opportunity to pursue happiness to all people." Analyzing past leaders (FDR, Gandhi, Mao Tse-tung, among others) and changes and revolutions in leadership around the world, Burns gives concise histories behind the subject matters before dissecting the different leadership styles of monarchs, politicians, and social reformers and the impact they have made throughout the world. An excellent examination of the art of motivating, organizing, and directing people for the common good. Michelle Kaske
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Edit of 22 Dec 07 to add links.

This is quite a fine book. It will be especially valuable to that very rare breed of all-source intelligence analyst, those responsible for analyzing foreign leaders, and completely fed up with the sterile "biographic" analysis that lists job titles and honors. The author expands substantially on the very immature but promising field leadership analysis by discussing in detail the concepts and practices of "traits-based" or "value" leadership.

The author, himself already established as one of the best writers about leaders and leadership, breaks new ground in exploring the psychology of leadership, and creating a new inter-disciplinary and psychologically-rooted approach to understanding leadership at the national, organizational, and personal levels. He concludes that transformative leadership is all too rare; that it can redirect the fate of nations (Ghandi stands out as an exemplar), and that nurturing true transformative leadership rather than mere industrial-era task-mandating and monitoring leadership, is the core competency for navigating into the 21st Century.

The author is especially brutal when his idea are applied to the charismatic or ideologically-purified forms of leadership that pass for Presidential politics today. "At best, charisma is a confusing and undemocratic form of leadership. At worst, it is a form of tyranny.
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3 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Amy Huson on August 27, 2005
Format: Hardcover
This book was one of the textbooks for an honors leadership course I took in college. I absolutely hated it. The concepts were interesting but the language was too hard to follow. I felt inferior as I was reading this book, which is not aomething an author should strive to achieve.

Although, as I stated above, the author had interesting ideas and concepts, there was one thing that I had a tough time swallowing. The author argues that there is no such thing as a "bad leader". Instead, if you are not a good leader, you are not a leader. I strongly disagree with this idea, as an individual can be a leader but not a good one. I'm sure that most people can think of someone in their life that they would categorize as a "bad leader".

I will never recommend this book, nor will I ever purchase or read another book written by this author.
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