cover image TRANSFORMING LEADERSHIP: A New Pursuit of Happiness


James MacGregor Burns, . . Atlantic Monthly, $26 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-87113-866-8

Twenty-five years after the publication of Leadership, Burns expands upon his theories about how leaders cultivate their successors to explore how they create environments conducive to social and personal development. He distinguishes between "transactional" leaders, who thrive on cutting deals, and "transforming" leaders, whose sweeping changes totally revamp political institutions. Although the book relies on a variety of historical examples, it devotes particular attention to Franklin Roosevelt, about whom Burns has written extensively in the past (The Lion and the Fox; The Soldier of Freedom). Burns's underlying theory imagines leadership as part of a broader social process in which leaders and followers are closely interrelated. Starting with psychologist Abraham Maslow's theories of the hierarchy of human needs, the book suggests leaders attain their power through their responsiveness to others' desires for security, self-esteem and personal development, putting themselves in a position to "create and expand the opportunities that empower people to pursue happiness for themselves." As such, leadership is an inherently positive process, distinguishable from tyranny by the latter's inability to promote liberty and equality. Amusing asides, in which Burns describes how he attempted to apply his understanding of leadership principles to raising his children, enliven the scholarly consideration of leadership's evolution over the centuries. These accessible anecdotes, as well as Burns's explications of historical examples, will ensure the book's influence extends beyond its most obvious implications for political science. Agent, Fifi Oscard. (Apr.)

Forecast:Harvard's Kennedy School of Government will host a conference in May centering on Burns and his work, so Cambridge and Boston bookstores may want to stock up.