loren Eric Swanson: Transforming Leadership by James MacGregor Burns

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Transforming Leadership by James MacGregor Burns

Burns, James MacGregor. Transforming Leadership: a New Pursuit of Happiness. New York, New York: Atlantic Monthly Press, 2003.

“Summoned forth by human wants, the task of leadership is to accomplish some change in the world that reponds to those wants. Its actions and achievements are measured by the supreme public values that themselves are the profoundest expressions of human wants: liberty and equality, justice and opportunity, the pursuit of happiness. P. 2

“Hence I would call for the protection and nourishing of happiness, for extending the opportunity to pursue happiness to all people, as the core agenda of transforming leadership. P. 3

“Every human change begins with someone having an intention, taking the initiative.” P. 17

“We must distinguish here between the verbs ‘change’ and ‘transform,’ using exacting definitions. To change is to substitute one thing for another, to give and take, to exchange places, to pass from one place to another. These are the kinds of changes I attribute to transactional leadership. But to transform something cuts much more profoundly. It is to cause a metamorphosis in form or structure, a change in the very condition or nature of a thing, a change into another substance a radical change in outward form or inner character, as when a frog is transformed into a prince or a carriage maker into an auto factory. It is change of this breadth end depth that is fostered by transforming leadership.” P. 24

“Historians of ideas have long noted the element of simultaneity in the advent of theories and concepts. Thinkers taking different paths converge at almost the same moment on a problem and even on its solution.” P. 24

“Leaders take the initiative in mobilizing people for participation in the processes of change, encouraging a sense of collective identity and collective efficacy, which in turn brings stronger feelings of self-worth and self-efficacy…. By pursuing transformational change, people can transform themselves.” P. 25

“Instead of exercising power over people, transforming leaders champion and inspire followers. Tension can develop in this process. As leaders encourage followers to rise above narrow interests and work together for transcending goals, leaders can come into conflict with followers’ rising sense of efficacy and purpose. Followers might outstrip leaders. They might become leaders themselves. That is what makes transforming leadership participatory and democratic.” P. 26

“Transforming values lie at the heart of transforming leadership, determining whether leadership indeed can be transforming.” P. 29

“Where does leadership begin? Where change begins. Where does change begin? In my view, with the burgeoning in humans of powerful physical and psychological wants. Leadership is so intertwined with fundamental change, and change with the dynamics of ants and needs, as to make rather arbitrary any locating of origins in what is really a seamless web.” P. 140

“At its simplest, creative leadership begins when a person imagines a state of affairs not presently existing.” P. 153

Interaction begins when the innovator rallies support to carry out the change he intends. Innovators have a triple burden: they must break with the inheritors among whom they may have been numbered; they must mobilize followers by appealing to their wants and hopes and other motivations; they must adapt their intentions to those of would-be followers without sacrificing their essential goal.” P.221

“Thus individual efficacy both strengthens and draws strength from collective efficacy, in a virtuous circle.
Collective efficacy benefits from another virtuous circle, according to Albert Bandura. The higher the efficacy, the greater the participation; the greater the participation, the larger the potential for success; and the larger the potential for success, the higher the efficacy. Mutual aid and obligations, comradeship, shared values and goals—all enhance and are enhanced by collective efficacy.” P. 224

Building collective efficacy from the grass roots up—as people convert self-interests into common purposes, as activists learn to challenge the power structures around them, as leaders give heart to followers by showing how obstacles are surmountable, as community leadership links up with collective action at broader, even national and global levels—is crucial to achieving leadership, for far-reaching social change, and the promise of happiness. P. 225


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