Arguably one of Dr. Burns greatest contributions to the discipline is his 1978 book Leadership where he coined the terms transactional leadership and transformational leadership. If you’ve never read it, I encourage you to do so.
One of my favorite quotes, which is still relevant today as it was more than 35 years ago, is:
“The crisis of leadership today is the mediocrity or irresponsibility of so many of the men and women in power, but leadership rarely rises to the full need for it. The fundamental crisis underlying mediocrity is intellectual. If we know all too much about our leaders, we know far too little about leadership. We fail to grasp the essence of leadership that is relevant to the modern age and hence we cannot agree on the standards by which to measure, recruit, and reject it. Is leadership simply innovation – cultural or political? Is it essentially inspiration? Mobilization of followers? Goal setting? Goal fulfillment? Is a leader the definer of values? Satisfier of needs? If leaders require followers, who leads whom from where to where, and why? How do leaders lead followers without being wholly lead by followers? Leadership is one of the most observed and least understood phenomena on earth.” (pp. 1-2)
Burns, J.M. (1978). Leadership. New York, NY: Harper & Row.