Burns (1978, historian/political scientist):
- following exchange/transactional theories of leadership, Burns suggested that followers are central to leadership because a) they are significantly involved in the negotiations central to the transactions of power, and b) they have minds of their own (well, duh!);
- leaders transform groups in ethically and morally uplifting ways.
“Burns became famous among alternative leadership scholars because his model of transformational leadership included an ethical/moral dimension that, prior to 1978, had not been infused into any leadership theory. Selznick (1957) had equated leadership with the infusion of values into organizations, but values are not necessarily ethical or moral. There was certainly no room in the saga of the structural-functionalists, who eschewed any kind of value orientation as a bias that made scholarship unscientific, for a leadership theory that inserted a required moral component. Even after the management and psychological scholars discovered Burns, they sanitized his concept of transformation to include any kind of significant change, not just changes that had a morally uplifting effect on people (see Avolio & Bass, 1988; Bass, 1985; Conger & Kanungo, 1988; Peters & Waterman, 1982; Bennis & Nanus, 1985).” (Rost, pages 30-31)
Burns was one of the first scholars to assert that true leadership not only creates change and achieves goals within the environment, but changes the people involved in the necessary actions for the better as well: both followers and leaders are ennobled.