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Showing 1-10 of 39 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 50 reviews
on September 9, 2016
Although I purchased this book because it was required reading for a Doctoral program (Ed.D in Educational Leadership with a focus on Transformative Leadership, in particular) it is by no means simply a "text book".

It is an interesting read that covers countless types of leaders and theories on leadership in general. It is insightful and thought provoking, and the fact that many consider it a classic is no surprise to me.

I am pleased that it was required reading, as I am unsure if I would have purchased it otherwise. As someone who is fascinated by human interaction, and society as a whole, I have become more interested in how leadership plays into that with each chapter I complete.
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Incredibly boring and incredibly profound. Go figure!
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on July 31, 2016
While this book is thickly written, Burns is a talented author. His approach to historiography is methodical and fascinating.
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on April 5, 2017
A classic that really booted up the transformation leadership movement. I liked it so much that I purchased it in hardbound.
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on November 23, 2005
The world of leadership is examined through a sweeping assessment on its power and purpose to its origins in James MacGregor Burns's book, Leadership. This book is a very comprehensive overview of the study of leadership as it distinguishes not only what are the two basic styles of leadership: transforming and transactional, but evaluates the theory and practice of leadership skills as well. Burns stated in Leadership, "I define leadership as leaders inducing followers to act for certain goals that represent the values and the motivations¬-the wants and needs, the aspirations and expectations-of both leaders and followers" (19).

Throughout the book, Burns discussed the leadership styles of political leaders to religious and social leaders. From Martin Luther King, Jr to Moses to Mahatma Gandhi to Napoleon, plus Machiavelli and even Adolf Hitler, Burns cited how these leaders made vital distinctions between wants and needs. According to Burns, "the process of leadership must be seen as part of the dynamics of conflict and of power; that leadership is nothing if not linked to collective purpose; that the effectiveness of leaders must be judged not by their press clippings but by actual social change measured by intent and by the satisfaction of human needs and expectations" (3).
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on September 18, 2015
One book with various topics of leadership. Priceless
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on April 6, 2014
this book will go a long way in addressing the problem of political leadership in Africa and other developing countries. anyone who is interested in making a difference should get a copy of this book.
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on December 31, 2013
Leadership is a secondary source history/political science book drawing on historical examples, psychology, and some philosophical concepts on governance. Burns goal with the book is to establish a foundation for the study of leadership, combining the studies of the leaders themselves and the followers. It covers the individual traits of leaders, their relationship to followers, and how they managed to accomplish great things or have such great impact.

This textbook has a number of stylistic problems that make it difficult to read, despite its interesting substance. Its organization is shaky and many of the chapters and sections have no clear intro or conclusion to tie his thesis together. The book is a dry, boring read that meanders between secondary sources, historical anecdotes, and the author's own biased perceptions.

Burns seems to be trying to place a lateral beam across several pillars with his leadership school. This isn't nearly as groundbreaking as the blurbs on the back of the book claim. Burns' conclusions are limited in scope, and don't leave a strong impression on the reader.

He overuses Sigmund Freud, conceding that psychoanalysis of historical figures is not particularly accurate or helpful, then goes forward and uses it anyway. He identifies few patterns, constantly going back to the same old "blame the parents" approach to psychoanalysis. His occasional delving into the sexual habits of famous leaders was purely conjecture and not worthy of this text.

Burns narration of historical events and the rise of certain leaders is mediocre. It isn't heavy on detail, yet the prose is still difficult to follow. The historical examples do not clearly demonstrate his thesis. He provides limit context, assuming the reader is fully apprised of the historical events. This is arrogant and lazy. I can only assume the book is meant for a graduate-level audience who have strong backgrounds in history and political science. It certainly wasn't marketed this way (Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award).

Burns take on Mao Zedong was troubling to me. In Mao's case, his leadership ended when he took power at which point he became a tyrant. By Burns own admission, a tyranny is not leadership. He speaks glowingly of these revolutions despite the bloodshed, poverty, misery, and war it brought to the respective countries. His positive view of the Cultural Revolution in China is absolutely stunning, ignoring its atrocities and utter failure.

The book was published in 1978, so some of these events were contemporary. We know more today about the Soviet Union and the experiences of Communist China in the 20th century. It is fair to say Burns was very wrong in his opinion of these two political systems and their relevance to his school of leadership. The other sections are much better.

Why give it 3 stars with all these problems? Burns combines multiple disciplines for a fairly reasonable case against compartmentalizing social sciences (this was his implicit objective). His study of leadership became the basis for later works, especially those covering popular and business leadership. Finally, I for the most part agree with his primary thesis and the supporting definitions early in the book. So it gets an average grade from me.
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on July 22, 2015
A seminal work. Also read Joseph Rost's classic book, "Leadership for the Twenty-First Century."
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on October 2, 2016
The book is interesting and provides a great deal of information, but I received it too late.
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