Some people become leaders because they develop or possess certain talents and dispositions, charisma, or passions, or because of their wealth, military might, job title, or family name. Others lead because they possess great minds and ideas or they tell compelling stories. And then there are those who stumble into leadership because of the times they live in or the circumstances in which they find themselves. No matter how people become leaders, no one is a leader without willing followers. Managers and generals may act like playground bullies and use their power and rank to force their will on people, but this is coercion, not leadership. Leadership is not a person or a position. It is a complex moral relationship between people, based on trust, obligation, commitment, emotion, and a shared vision of the good. Ethics is about how we distinguish between right and wrong, or good and evil in relation to the actions, volitions, and character of human beings. Ethics lie at the heart of all human relationships and hence at the heart of the relationship between leaders and followers. The essays in this volume explore the ethical complexities of leadership.
I dedicated this book to James MacGregor Burns because his theory of transforming leadership rests on the ongoing moral relationship of leaders and followers. In his book, Leadership, Burns describes transforming leadership as a relationship in which leaders and followers