Amazon Business Best Books of the Month STEM nav_sap_plcc_ascpsc Starting at $39.99 March Birthstone Shop Popular Services biglittlelies biglittlelies biglittlelies  All-New Echo Dot Starting at $49.99 Kindle Oasis AutoRip in CDs & Vinyl Shop Now STEM

Format: Kindle Edition|Change
Price:$7.99
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

Showing 1-10 of 37 reviews(Verified Purchases). See all 48 reviews
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.
0Comment| 20 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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).
0Comment| 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 3, 2015
I like the author's books but I found this book to very dry and in the end boring. This could perhaps result from the fact that I was not that interested in reading that much about the subject. Others may feel differently.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on January 2, 2015
I was disappointed and stopped reading part way through. This is not for the casual reader. The biographies were buried in boring academic theories.
0Comment| 2 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on October 8, 2016
terrible
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on December 1, 2014
Arrived timely and was given as a gift.
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on April 19, 2012
I'd echo several of the other "low raters" in saying that this book won't make a very useful guide to improving your leadership skills. Now, full disclosure, this is a book I did not finish. And that's because, IMHO, its premise is fatally flawed. The starting point for this book is power. Burns spends much time examining the powerful, including Mao and Hitler, as a way to study leadership. The problem with this is that leadership is not value neutral. The fact that you have great power, is not an indicator of great leadership. If there are people who have terribly abused their power, we really shouldn't be spending chapters and chapters psychoanalyzing them or probing their histories for important lessons. Let's just call it what it is: abuse of power, or evil, and focus on the lessons that can be drawn from truly great leaders.

And continuing on the point about power: Power is a tool, with many varied sources, that a leader should use. But it is not fundamentally definitional of a leader. And at best it is a means, not an end.

As I've mentioned in another book review, for those looking for an understanding of leadership in modern organizations, read Drucker's "Management".
11 comment| 12 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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.
review image
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on August 6, 2014
An exciting journey through leadership from the guru's perspective. I have not completed reading this book as yet but it is certainly helping me with my research. More after I have completed reading it
0Comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
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.
11 comment|Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse