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Two types of leadership

2012/04/19

I was trying to find a particular quote on “responsibility without authority” (and still am) and thanks to Google Books I bumped into this:

Though he would probably have preferred another word to describe it, “purposing” was something like what James M. Burns had had in mind a decade earlier. Leadership is nothing, he wrote in his insightful and influential 1978 study of the subject, “if [it is] not linked to collective purpose.” Burns agreed that a crisis had arrived. People in power were too often mediocre or irresponsible. But he thought this crisis was fundamentally an intellectual one: We simply do not know enough (indeed, we know very little) about leadership. He argued that leadership comes basically in two forms: transactional and transforming. Transactional leadership, in which the relationship between leaders and followers is based on an exchange of favors for support, had become the dominant mode. The transforming variety is “a relationship of mutual stimulation and elevation that converts followers into leaders and may convert leaders into moral agents”. To be a transforming leader is to recognize the relationship with followers and their needs and goals. That relationship and the character of the leader were prime ingredients of Burns’s theory of effective leadership.

Emphasis and links added by me. Good stuff to contemplate on until the May 6 elections…

Update: I use to say that one of the greatest faults in the Greek Public Sector is the existence of parallel hierarchies. Which means that there exists the documented organizational hierarchy and there exist also conditions where a subordinate, because of being close to people “with power” (meaning a political ally, a party member or even an elected member of the Parliament), is ranked higher than his direct supervisor. How is one supposed to lead someone who he cannot order to perform any function at all? Transactional leadership at its best.

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