James Madison and the Ethics of Transformational Leadership
J. Thomas Wren
Transformational leadership has become one of the dominant paradigms of leadership studies since its first articulation by James MacGregor Burns in 1978. 1 In recent years, however, this formulation of leadership has come under criticism, to include the critique of its ethical implications. 2 One of the most innovative and provocative of such critiques is one by Michael Keeley in this book, grounded in his close study of the political theory of James Madison. 3 Keeley argues that Madison provides a model of leadership that opposes transformational leadership and that avoids many of its ethical pitfalls. This chapter suggests an alternative interpretation of Madison's theory and works; one that places Madison's thought squarely in the historical intellectual current that eventually yielded conceptions of transformational leadership. Moreover, I argue that Madison's continued concern with the proper roles of leaders and followers suggests a remedy for the ethical concerns over transformational leadership that Keeley and others so rightly identify.