Jul 15, 2014
By Michael Kramer
James MacGregor Burns has died.
The eminent Pulitzer Prize-winning historian was known for his expertise on leadership.
Burns died at the age of 95 today – at his home in Williamstown, Massachusetts.
He won the Pulitzer Prize for a biography of Franklin Roosevelt – and also wrote a highly influential book on leadership.
Burns helped to coin two expressions that are now common in politics: “transformational” leaders – those with a vision to change the world.. and “transactional” leaders, those with the ability to get things done.
The terms were used constantly during the 2008 U.S. presidential race, with the “transactional” Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton battling the “transformational” Senator Barack Obama for the Democratic nomination.
Burns will be buried at Williams College, where he was a professor emeritus.