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Topic Page: Leadership
Leadership is generally a process whereby a person influences others to accomplish a set of goals or objectives within an organization. Leadership and authority can be confused with each other. Authority describes the assigned power one person has over another; however, having authority does not make someone a leader—it makes him or her a boss. Effective leaders have the ability to cause followers to want to achieve desired outcomes, so the exercise of power becomes less important. Herein lies the art of leadership.
Topic Page: Transformational leadership
In 1978, political scholar, James MacGregor Burns, published Leadership, a book that distinguished between traditional leaders who use a more transactional leadership style and transformational leaders. Transactional leaders offer social exchange – money for labor, or recognition in exchange for loyalty. Transformational leaders raise leadership to a higher level. Transformational leaders inspire followers to achieve extraordinary outcomes, and in the process, they help develop followers’ own leadership qualities. Transformational leaders are often seen as visionary and as agents of change.
An important central element of Burns’s theory is the moral quality of transformational leaders who are more concerned with the common good than achieving their own self-interests. It is this moral or ethical element that distinguishes transformational leadership from earlier notions of charismatic leadership. While both transformational leaders and charismatic leaders are able to inspire followers with a compelling vision, transformational leaders go beyond mere charisma and strive to develop meaningful interpersonal relationships with followers and are characterized by a concern for individual followers’ needs. Moreover, while charismatic leaders can be both morally good or bad (e.g., Hitler), transformational leaders, by definition, are ethical and put concerns of others over their own.