Transformational Leaders or Paragon Leaders?

Transforming Leadership: Advancing to higher levels of motivation

It has been 37 years since Burns published Leadership in 1978, establishing a new construct: transforming leadership, in which leaders and followers advance to higher levels of motivation and morality. Bass (1990) advanced the emerging leadership construct by identifying components (idealized influence, inspirational motivation, individualized consideration, intellectual stimulation), and major personality traits, from extraversion to conscientiousness. The Leadership “business” was on its way to becoming a growth industry. It could even be funny.

In 1999, Scott Adams, wickedly humorous creator of Dilbert, reminded us to be thankful for a perceived lack of leadership in the world. Adams claimed that “only reason for leadership is to convince people to do things that are…dangerous…or stupid…” He went on in Don’t Step in the Leadership, to savage management and “leadership” practices in corporate settings. Leadership was a main stream issue.
Leadership has remained a main stream issue and highly popular subject for nearly four decades. Our love affair with “leadership” continues unabated. We are awash in “leadership.”

A recent google search for “leadership,” returned about 4,200,000,000 results. Refining the search somewhat to “leadership qualities,” reduced the returns to a more manageable (?) about 557,000,000.

An amazon search brought 23,187 results for books having “leadership” as a key word, almost as many as the entire area of management, 25,097. Over 700 “leadership” books were listed as published in the last 90 days, or over 2,800 per year, on average.

Those figures are impressive for a construct having many meanings and definitions that evolved from the Old English word “laedan,” meaning “to go forth.” To lead therefore, fundamentally means “to show the way to, by going in advance.” The popularity of “leadership” how-to’s suggests an even larger amount of “lost.”

More: Leadership Theory: Evolving to find the secret to replicating success

Suggested citation:

Connors, T. D. (2019). Transformational leaders or paragon leaders? In Transformational organizations: NPO crossroads. Retrieved from BelleAire Press, LLC:

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